Strong Relationships with Trusted Adults Prevent and Help Kids Recover From Toxic Stress

Childhood adversities, such as being separated from a parent or experiencing childhood maltreatment, can cause toxic stress, which can lead to mental and physical health issues if experienced over a long period. According to the researchers, making sure that children have a strong relationship with a trusted caregiver is the best way to prevent or reverse the damage of childhood adversity.

Researchers from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University warn of the potential negative effects of childhood adversities on children later in life, in the absence of a strong and stable relationship with a trusted adult. 

Chronic neglect, child abuse, or a sudden separation from parents—all situations that put a child’s stress response system into overdrive. Jack Shonkoff, MD, is a pediatrician who studies early childhood adversity and health. For starters, here’s what happens to kids when stress hormones, like cortisol, stay elevated for a long time.

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