The European Council for Steiner Waldorf Education

Published on February 7th, 2012 | by ECSWE

The Toxic Stress of Early Childhood Adversity

Rethinking Health and Education Policy

Research has suggested that early and prolonged childhood exposure to adversity, poverty, unsafe and unhealthy environments – combined with a lack of responsive, protective relationships – can undermine normal brain development and set the stage for physical, emotional and cognitive difficulties in adulthood.

Such stress may influence brain development and increase the risk for illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. While efforts have been made for decades to intervene early in children’s lives, the results have not always been resounding.

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