New research finds that children who experience high levels of stress in early childhood may suffer enduring problems in learning, physical well-being, and social development. The research into “toxic stress” is helping us understand how the stress of abuse and neglect impacts early neurological development and seriously affects children’s long-term resilience and learning.
Healthy States brought together experts and community leaders to discuss the neurological connection between toxic stress in childhood and lifelong health, and to hear how child welfare advocates in Minnesota are addressing it. First, Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Child Development presented findings on the connection between neurological development and early childhood stress.
Then MPR News reporter Sasha Aslanian, the event’s moderator, invited community leaders to discuss their work to mitigate toxic stress. The group included MayKao Y. Hang, president and CEO of the Wilder Foundation, Sondra Samuels, president and CEO of Northside Achievement Zone, and Dr. Michael Troy, medical director of Behavioral Health Services at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. Dr. Troy also shared his takeaways from the gathering on the Children’s health blog.