In partnership with Stress Health, an initiative of the Center for Youth Wellness
How Childhood Trauma Affects Health
Today, I am going to talk about something that is probably a new idea or topic for many people. For others, the idea may seem intuitive. Either way, I bet you learn something new!
There is a connection between chronic childhood adversity and long-term health. I don’t find that surprising. However, I had no idea about the studies focusing on just how much childhood trauma affects health. I am partnering with Center for Youth Wellness to talk about Stress Health, share how harmful toxic stress is to our kids in their developmental state and discuss what we can do about it.
I recently watched a TED Talk that blew my mind. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris shared statistics that clearly show how childhood trauma affects health by measuring differences in development of the brain of children exposed to toxic stress.
Address Toxic Stress In Young Children
Childhood trauma or toxic stress in young children is a pervasive problem. What exactly do I mean by toxic stress? I am talking about things like abuse, neglect, and household instability. These types of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) result in powerful stress hormones that overwhelm the child’s developing body and brain. The result can be lifelong mental and physical health issues.
If your child has been exposed to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), know that you are not alone and something can be done. Research shows parents can be the most powerful force in preventing and even reversing the impact of toxic stress on young children. It is important to talk to your kids about traumatic events.
However, if left unaddressed, toxic stress can affect health, growth, learning, behavior, immunity, and even genes. Kids who are exposed to very high doses of ACEs without the support of caring adults can have more than double the lifetime risk of heart disease and cancer and a nearly 20-year difference in life expectancy! Not surprisingly, childhood toxic stress also leaves them at greater risk for depression, obesity, substance abuse problems, smoking, and teen pregnancy.
Too often toxic stress is hidden or not discussed. Many people are not even aware of the what toxic stress means or that it can have a direct impact on life-long health.
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Now that we know just how harmful toxic stress can be to our kids, we can do something about it.
You will want to determine if your child is at risk for toxic stress affecting their brain development. What’s Toxic Stress? includes an overview of ACEs science and is a great place to start.
The stresshealth.org website is a resource that is loaded with valuable ideas for building resilient families that adapt to adversity in healthy ways.
Now that you know how childhood trauma affects health and that toxic stress does in fact affect brain development, help spread the word and share this article so that we can work together to help support those kids that need our help most.