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A new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics has declared that children who are exposed to “toxic stress” between conception and early childhood could have lifelong problems.

As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof reports:

“Toxic stress might arise from parental abuse of alcohol or drugs. It could occur in a home where children are threatened and beaten. It might derive from chronic neglect — a child cries without being cuddled … suggesting that the stress emerges when a child senses persistent threats but no protector.”

Some of the negative impacts of toxic stress on children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, include difficulty in school, short tempers and trouble with alcohol as well as the law. As adults, those who suffered toxic stress as children are more likely to suffer from heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other health problems. Younger children are at the highest risk of developing ramifications from toxic stress, as their brains are still in the process of forming and making connections.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, one way to combat toxic stress could be the following: “Protecting young children from adversity is a promising, science-based strategy to address many of the most persistent and costly problems facing contemporary society, including limited educational achievement, diminished economic productivity, criminality and disparities in health.”

Source: The New York Times, American Academy of Pediatrics


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