Childhood Poverty and Parental Stress: Important Determinants of Health

Jennifer Anne Kalil


The following is a review of child development literature that attempts to elucidate what early-life stress and poverty does to an individual, how it does so, and what we can do to try and prevent and/or minimize this damage. First, we provide a snap shot of the research that demonstrates that early-life experiences affect the cognitive abilities, behaviour, and health of an individual for the rest of their life. Next, we explain the mechanisms by which these long lasting stable changes occur, including toxic stress mediated dysregulation of the HPA axis and epigenetics. Finally we touch on some of the up and coming evidence that early-childhood interventions targeting education, family stress relief, and the parent-child relationship can reverse and/or prevent the negative effects of toxic stress on cognition and health.

The Official Student-Driven Publication of the UBC Faculty of Medicine

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