Ten years ago when I wrote the foreword to the first edition of this book, the
concept of women’s health was changing at a rapid pace. The focus was just
shifting from solely reproductive issues and biological factors, to an expanded
perception that women’s health encompasses biological, familial, cultural, economic,
emotional, psychological, and behavioral elements of each woman and her
sociopolitical environment, beyond just the reproductive organs and across her
In October 2009, the Institute of Health Economics ( IHE ) staged a consensus
development conference to address key questions about the prevention, diagnosis,
and treatment of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder ( FASD ). Experts in the fi eld
presented scientifi c evidence to a “ jury ” about prevention and the social determinants
that may induce drinking during pregnancy, the importance of diagnosis,
the impact of FASD across a person ’ s lifespan, and the community supports
needed for those living with FASD, as well as their families.
Based on this understanding of women’s health, the exclusive focus adopted by this report on
women and their corresponding health issues and needs is necessary to adequately address the
topic. There are diseases which are unique, more prevalent, or more serious in women and for some
diseases risk factors and interventions are different for women and men. Changes in diseases over
time and across the lifespan also differ between women and men.
Investing in child health is an investment upstream. Quite simply, health in infancy and the early years contributes
to healthy children and youth, and healthy children and youth contribute to health throughout the lifespan.
Indeed, “the early development of cognitive skills, emotional well-being, social competence and sound physical
and mental health builds a strong foundation for success well into the adult years…these abilities are critical
prerequisites for economic productivity and responsible citizenship throughout life.