The Duchess of Cambridge during a video briefing with Kelly Beaver (Image: PA)

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The Duchess of Cambridge wants a sea change in attitudes towards families with young children after publishing a landmark study.

Kate – concerned that a poor start is a cause of social problems such as family breakdown and addiction – is seeking ways to provide better support for ­families with children aged under five.

Those issues along with homelessness and mental health cost £17billion a year in intervention in England and Wales.

Half a million people took part in a survey fronted by Kate around early childhood that is published today.

The report reveals that 98% of people believe a child’s destiny is not determined at birth but is affected by nurture.

But only one in four people recognises the scientists’ consensus that the first five years of life are the most important.

Kate is to warn of the crucial role early years play in raising the next generation of adults
(Image: PA)

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Just one in 10 parents said they took time to look after their wellbeing during pregnancy, and 37% believe the pandemic will have a negative impact on mental health.

In a speech today, Kate says: “Over the last decade I’ve met people from all walks of life. I have seen that experiences such as homelessness, addiction, and poor mental health are often grounded in a difficult childhood.

“But I have also seen how positive protective factors in the early years can play a crucial role in shaping our future.

“The early years are not simply about how we raise our children. They are in fact about how we raise the next ­generation of adults. They are about the society we will become.”

Kensington Palace described it as a “milestone moment” for the Duchess.

Jason Knauf, chief executive of the Royal Foundation, which commissioned the Ipsos MORI poll, said: “She has seen over and over again how often problems can be traced back to the earliest years.”

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: “It’s vital the Government recognises the value of early years.”