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Targeting Toxic Stress in Children


Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff


Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard, has launched a national campaign against ‘‘toxic stress’’ in childhood.

Q. What do you mean by the term “toxic stress’’?

A. Toxic stress refers to what’s going on physiologically in our bodies when our stress response system is activated for long periods of time without being brought back to baseline.

Q. This constant stress takes a physical toll, particularly on young children?

A. Stress wears the body down. There are parts of the brain that are very sensitive to some of the stress hormones that are elevated with toxic stress. Early in life, this is the time that those circuits are actually being developed. If not developed well, you have weak circuits for the rest of your life.

To read more with Professor Jack Shonkoff, please visit The Boston Globe.


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