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December 2006

The Role of Early Stressors in Child Health and Mental Health Outcomes

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006;160(12):1300-1301. doi:10.1001/archpedi.160.12.1300

Starting out life with a depressed or an abusive parent appears to make a number of issues challenging for children. Infants are dependent on caregivers for help with regulating behavior, physiological state, and emotions. With development, children increasingly take over these functions themselves. When a caregiver is unresponsive (as often happens with a depressed caregiver) or frightening (as often happens with a maltreating caregiver), children may not receive the help they need in taking over these regulatory functions. There has been strong evidence that these and other early environmental risk factors place children at increased risk for a host of psychological and social problems.13 Flaherty et al4 found that early adversity is also associated with problematic child health outcomes.

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