Optimizing the early years to ensure a lifetime of health

October 25, 2013

Recent research has found that a dramatic dance between genes and experience shape the architecture of the developing brain, most profoundly during the first 1,000 days of life.

The Pediatrics for the 21st Century (Peds21) symposium, "Promoting Early Brain and Childhood Development: Building Brains, Forging Futures," on Friday, Oct. 25, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, brings together child development experts to discuss the latest research regarding the role of parents and caregivers and experiences in shaping future health.

"What's new is the science; we now know that early experiences alter the structure and function of the way your genes and brain work together, not just in childhood but throughout the lifespan," said Andrew Garner, MD, PhD, FAAP. "Unfortunately, today, toxic stress and early childhood adversity are quickly becoming a crisis."

Dr. Garner's presentation, "Toxic Stress and the Public Health Implications," at Peds21 focuses on the well-established associations between early and poor outcomes in adolescence and adulthood.

By 2030, 90 percent of disease in the U.S. will be due to non-communicable diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles, including smoking, obesity and substance abuse, Dr. Garner said.

"These are transient ways of coping with stress. In the short term, they make us feel better. In the long term, they cause problems," he said. "Childhood adversity and stress can be toxic, and they are causing biological maladaptations."

Also discussed during the half-day symposium are the role of parental and caregiver support, skills and stimulation in early , including early literacy, and the potential effects of early childhood exposure to electronic media in brain development.

"We're technologizing children in a way that is unprecedented," said Dimitri Christakis, MD, FAAP, who will deliver a presentation on infant media usage. "Fast paced media can over stimulate the developing , preconditioning it to expect high levels of input, and this can lead to decreased attentional capacity later in life.

"The typical preschool child today spent about 4.5 hours with screen media which represents 30 percent of his or her waking hours," he said. "To not focus on what the implications of this are would be a huge disservice to the next generation."

Explore further: Childhood adversity linked to higher risk of early death

Related Stories

Childhood adversity linked to higher risk of early death

September 4, 2013
Traumatic childhood experiences are linked to an increased risk of early death, according to new research using data from the 1958 National Child Development Study.

Managing children's screen time: What parents need to know

October 17, 2013
In our increasingly fast-paced world, the Internet, video games, smartphones and TV programs are continually competing for consumers' attention. But what are the effects of screen media on infants and young children, when ...

Growing up poor and stressed impacts brain function as an adult

October 21, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Childhood poverty and chronic stress may lead to problems regulating emotions as an adult, according to research published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Studies report early childhood trauma takes visible toll on brain

October 16, 2012
Trauma in infancy and childhood shapes the brain, learning, and behavior, and fuels changes that can last a lifetime, according to new human and animal research released today. The studies delve into the effects of early ...

Children with brain injuries nearly twice as likely to suffer from depression

October 25, 2013
In a study presented Oct. 25 at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, researchers found that compared to other children, 15 percent of those with brain injuries or concussions were ...

Evidence of biological process that embeds social experience in DNA that affects entire networks of genes

October 11, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Early life experience results in a broad change in the way our DNA is "epigenetically" chemically marked in the brain by a coat of small chemicals called methyl groups, according to researchers at McGill ...

Recommended for you

Study shows probiotics can prevent sepsis in infants

August 17, 2017
A research team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health has determined that a special mixture of good bacteria in the body reduced the incidence of sepsis in infants in India by 40 percent at ...

Children who sleep an hour less at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, says study

August 15, 2017
A study has found that children who slept on average one hour less a night had higher risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including higher levels of blood glucose and insulin resistance.

Low blood sugars in newborns linked to later difficulties

August 8, 2017
A newborn condition affecting one in six babies has been linked to impairment in some high-level brain functions that shows up by age 4.5 years.

Can breast milk feed a love of vegetables?

August 4, 2017
(HealthDay)—Want your preschooler to eat veggies without a fuss? Try eating veggies while you're breast-feeding.

Small drop in measles vaccinations would have outsized effect, study estimates

July 24, 2017
Small reductions in childhood measles vaccinations in the United States would produce disproportionately large increases in the number of measles cases and in related public health costs, according to a new study by researchers ...

At the cellular level, a child's loss of a father is associated with increased stress

July 18, 2017
The absence of a father—due to incarceration, death, separation or divorce—has adverse physical and behavioral consequences for a growing child. But little is known about the biological processes that underlie this link ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.