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Faculty Associate Andrew Garner & the Impact of Toxic Stress

Posted on February 22, 2012

Faculty Associate Andrew Garner, MD recently published a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics on early childhood adversity, toxic stress, and the role of the pediatrician. The statement encourages pediatricians to play a role in encouraging interventions and community investments that reduce external threats to healthy brain development, while still monitoring for early identification of developmental concerns. Dr. Garner and his co-author use an ecobiodevelopmental (EBD) framework to describe how toxic stress, defined as excessive or prolonged activation of the physiologic stress response systems in the absence of the buffering protection afforded by stable, responsive relationships, can damage the developing brain. Over time, childhood toxic stress can lead to outcomes such as substance abuse, poor eating habits, financial hardship, diabetes and heart disease.

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