HOW EARLY EXPERIENCES GET INTO THE BODY: A Biodevelopmental Framework
Physiological Responses to Early Experiences Affect Lifelong Health, Educational Achievement, and Economic Productivity
These physiological responses to early experiences, in turn, affect adult outcomes in educational achievement and economic productivity; health-related behaviors that are either enhancing (e.g., nutritious diets, frequent exercise) or threatening (e.g., smoking, alcohol abuse, illicit substance use, other risk-taking behaviors); and physical and mental health. When early influences have been positive, physiological systems are typically healthy and adaptive. When influences have been adverse, systems may be dysfunctional and can lead to impaired learning, maladaptive behavior, illness, disability, and a shortened lifespan. In other words, children who live in health-promoting environments and have positive early experiences tend to go on to complete more years of school and have higher-paying jobs, live healthier lifestyles, and live longer, healthier lives. Children who experience significant adversity early in life without consistent support from caring adults are more likely to drop out of school earlier, earn less, depend more on public assistance, adopt a range of unhealthy behaviors, and live shorter and less healthy lives.