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The World Bank Group
Evidence is explored regarding whether interventions in school-age children can affect their later development by (1) reviewing the evidence for and against irreversibility to look for specific empirical examples supporting or refuting the idea of lifelong irreversibility; and (2) asking whether interventions after the early years of life help children regain or approach their innate capacity for development. The effects of early deprivation do not necessarily persist throughout life, especially if environmental circumstances change, and the trajectories of child growth and cognitive development respond rather strongly to growth-promoting interventions after age two years. This does not mean that catch-up growth and improvements in cognitive functioning in school-age children always happen, but little evidence exists to support the notion that early deficits remain irreversible. The significant remaining task covers developing and evaluating a range of interventions to introduce over time into a policy broader than now exists for reaching disadvantaged children throughout their lifecycle.