Topic: toxic stress

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Toxic Stress Derails Healthy Development

This 2-minute video explains how toxic stress can weaken the architecture of the developing brain, with long-term consequences for learning, behavior, and both physical and mental health.

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Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain

This working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child defines the concept of toxic stress—what happens when children experience severe, prolonged adversity without adult support.

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A cover image from the Best Practices to Breakthrough Impacts paper, showing the title and an image of two parents kissing their baby

From Best Practices to Breakthrough Impacts

This report synthesizes 15 years of dramatic advances in the science of early childhood and early brain development, analyzes evidence generated by 50 years of program evaluation research, and presents a framework for driving science-based innovation in early childhood policy and practice.

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InBrief: The Science of Neglect

This 6-minute video explains why significant neglect is so harmful in the earliest years of life and why effective interventions are likely to pay significant dividends in better long-term outcomes in learning, health, and parenting of the next generation.

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Working Paper 12 cover

The Science of Neglect: The Persistent Absence of Responsive Care Disrupts the Developing Brain

This working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explains why young children who experience severe deprivation or neglect can experience a range of negative consequences.

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The Brain Architects Podcast: COVID-19 Special Edition: How Do We Rebuild and Re-Envision Early Childhood Services?

The devastating toll of the pandemic has underscored the critical importance of connecting what science is telling us to the lived experiences of people and communities.

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PBS NewsHour Q&A: Childhood Trauma and COVID-19

Center Director, Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D. answers questions from PBS NewsHour’s William Brangham and viewers about how the COVID-19 pandemic and the long period of social distancing is affecting children and families.

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How Racism Can Affect Child Development

Research suggests that constant coping with systemic racism and everyday discrimination is a potent activator of the stress response. This may help us understand the early origins of racial disparities in chronic illness across the lifespan.

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Cover page of Health and Learning Are Deeply Interconnected Mini-Brief

Health and Learning Are Deeply Interconnected in the Body: An Action Guide for Policymakers

Three key messages from the science of early childhood development, adversity, and resilience can help guide our thinking in a time when innovation has never been more needed in public systems to improve both health and learning.

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InBrief: The Science of Early Childhood Development

This brief explains how the science of early brain development can inform investments in early childhood. These basic concepts, established over decades of neuroscience and behavioral research, help illustrate why child development—particularly from birth to five years—is a foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society.

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What Is Inflammation? And Why Does it Matter for Child Development?

Inflammation is a critical part of an immune system’s response to invaders and threats; it enables our bodies to attack infections and heal the damage they cause. Inflammation can also be triggered by other experiences, such as witnessing traumatic events or undergoing stressful circumstances, and this response helps our bodies to react to and survive […]

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The Brain Architects Podcast: COVID-19 Special Edition: Creating Communities of Opportunity

While the current coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of us, it isn’t affecting all of us equally. In this episode, Dr. David Williams discusses ways in which the coronavirus pandemic is particularly affecting people of color in the U.S., and what that can mean for early childhood development.

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Man sitting in a chair reading to a baby sitting on his lap. (Photo by nappy from Pexels)

The Brain Architects Podcast: COVID-19 Special Edition: A Different World

While the coronavirus pandemic has changed many things around the world, it has not stopped child development.

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Detail of the first panel of the "What is COVID-19" infographic

What Is COVID-19? And How Does It Relate to Child Development?

This infographic explains the basics of what COVID-19 is, and what it can mean for stress levels in both children and the adults who care for them. It also offers some easy and concrete solutions to help caregivers ensure that both they and the children they care for don’t experience long-term effects of stress.

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Science X Design: Three Principles to Improve Outcomes for Children

Moving forward as a society depends on children developing to their full potential, and the science of early childhood development can help us figure out the best ways to make this happen. In this video, learn about three principles we’ve identified that community leaders, policymakers, and practitioners can use as a guiding star for designing […]

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How Early Childhood Experiences Affect Lifelong Health and Learning

How is ongoing, severe stress and adversity in early childhood connected to chronic disease in adults? And, what can we do about it? In this animated video, learn what the latest science tells us about how early experiences affect not only early learning and school readiness, but also lifelong health.

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Aerial view of construction workers walking on rebar and building a foundation (Photo by Saad Salim on Unsplash)

The Brain Architects Podcast: Toxic Stress: Protecting the Foundation

What is toxic stress? What effects can it have on a child’s body and development, and how can those effects be prevented? What does it mean to build resilience? This episode of The Brain Architects explores what “toxic stress” means, and what we can do about it. Host Sally Pfitzer is once again joined by […]

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About The Brain Architects Podcast

Healthy development in the early years provides the building blocks for educational achievement, economic productivity, responsible citizenship, strong communities, and successful parenting of the next generation. By improving children’s environments, relationships, and experiences early in life, society can address many costly problems, including incarceration, homelessness, and the failure to complete high school. But if you’re […]

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Animated woman with squiggly ball of stress over her head

Stress and Resilience: How Toxic Stress Affects Us, and What We Can Do About It

In this video, learn more about what toxic stress is, how it can affect you, and what you can do—both by yourself and in connection with your community—to deal with what you’re experiencing. Because even when toxic stress is caused by things you can’t control, like poverty, abuse, or racism, there are still ways both big and small to help you cope.

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Two trucks and a crane moving boxes from one truck to the other

What We Can Do About Toxic Stress

Making sure every community has the resources to foster a strong support system is one of the ways we can help to promote resilience, as well as prevent the potentially harmful effects of toxic stress. Those who’ve experienced toxic stress know best the toll it can take on the body and brain. But experiencing it is never the whole story. There are many supports that can help ease the burden and prevent toxic stress from leading to bad outcomes.

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InBrief: Applying the Science of Child Development in Child Welfare Systems

The healthy development of all children is essential for a thriving and prosperous community, and we now know a great deal about how child development works, as well as how to prevent and address problems. So, how can we use insights from cutting-edge science to improve the well-being and long-term life prospects of the most […]

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still from The Brain is a Work in Progress video

Training Module: “Build My Brain”

With lessons on brain architecture and toxic stress, the “Build My Brain” course connects the science of early childhood development to work in early childhood education, public health, and social services.


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Icons of a toddler and two babies

ACEs and Toxic Stress: Frequently Asked Questions

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)? In this infographic and FAQ, learn about ACEs and toxic stress, and how to prevent or reduce their lasting harm.

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Social and Behavioral Determinants of Toxic Stress

In this science talk, David Williams looks at the social and behavioral factors that play a role in triggering toxic stress for children and adults.

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Child Development Core Story

This educational video series on the importance of the early years was created by the Project for Babies, a former initiative of the University of Minnesota Center for Early Education and Development.

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The Toxic Stress of Early Childhood Adversity: Rethinking Health and Education Policy

Toxic stress is the subject of this on-demand webcast from The Forum at the Harvard School of Public Health. The discussion featured Center director Jack P. Shonkoff; Robert W. Block, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics; and Roberto Rodríguez, Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy in the White House. Launched in 2010, The Forum seeks to provide decision makers with a global platform to discuss policy choices and scientific controversies.

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Three Core Concepts in Early Development

This three-part video series depicts how advances in neuroscience, molecular biology, and genomics now give us a much better understanding of how early experiences are built into our bodies and brains, for better or for worse.

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Impact of Early Adversity video still

InBrief: The Impact of Early Adversity on Children’s Development

This video from the InBrief series outlines basic concepts from the research on the biology of stress which show that major adversity can weaken developing brain architecture.

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The Science of Early Childhood Development: Closing the Gap Between What We Know and What We Do

This report outlines seven core concepts of development, and explains their implications for policies and programs that could significantly improve children’s lives.

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A Science-Based Framework for Early Childhood Policy

This report provides a framework for using evidence to improve child outcomes in learning, behavior, and health.

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Working Paper 9 cover

Persistent Fear and Anxiety Can Affect Young Children’s Learning and Development

This working paper from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child explains how early exposure to circumstances that produce persistent fear and chronic anxiety can have lifelong effects on physical and mental health.

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InBrief: The impact of early adversity on children's development cover thumbnail

InBrief: The Impact of Early Adversity on Children’s Development

This brief explains how providing stable, responsive, nurturing relationships in the earliest years of life can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of early life stress, with lifelong benefits for learning, behavior, and health.

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A screenshot of the training module showing the various parts of the course you can take

Training Module: Health Care Practitioner Module and Resources

The Florida State University Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy (CPEIP), working in collaboration with the Center on the Developing Child and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), developed these Early Childhood Health Optimization resources for pediatricians, OB/GYNs, and Care Coordinators across the state of Florida. Available free of charge via CPEIP’s website, the resources include an interactive, multimedia module (approximately 52 minutes) and discussion guide introducing practitioners to the science of early childhood development, toxic stress, executive function, resilience, and mental health.

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