Toxic Stress…. duh!

It caught my eye immediately as I was scanning yesterday’s Globe: Dr. Jack Shonkoff’s interview. Dr. Shonkoff is the Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

So what is toxic stress and why be concerned.  Well, as I’ve recently learned, there impact of cortisol, the brain’s response to stress, cannot be underrated. Cortisol is not necessarily bad — but it has a negative impact when over-produced in response to stress.  Children (and adults) who are under constant stress have overproduction of cortisol as the body learns to get used to the “new normal” of constantly being under seige. What I do understand about cortisol is that is impacts fat “preservation” and insulin levels. Those lumpy middles on adults and kids may have more to do with continuous stress than anyone ever thought.

The question is, now that we have a hypothesis, what can be done?

Children – and their families – who live with the everyday traumas of poverty need help. We are quick to blame, to point out the (obvious) socio-economics that make crawling out of the hole of poverty nearly impossible. Our society, our government, should make providing healthcare and family support services to those who need it a priority.

To read more, or to learn the facts, click here.