We go through a lot as kids, but a new study suggests that childhood stress may lead to chronic health problems later in life. The Journal of the American College of Cardiology report claims children who experience high stress levels may be more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease as adults.
“The most striking and perhaps sobering finding in our study is that high levels of childhood distress predicted heightened adult disease risk, even when there was no evidence that these high levels of distress persisted into adulthood,” said study author Ashley Winning, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. “Greater attention must be paid to psychological distress in childhood,” Winning said. “It is an important issue in its own right and may also set up a trajectory of risk of poor health as people age.”
According to a National Public Radio (NPR) story, it’s possible that when people experience early-life stress it actually changes something about them biologically. Stress may influence how genes get switched on or off, for instance, or may initiate some other physiological effects.
What can be done to help? In the Journal’s accompanying editorial, E. Alison Holman, PhD, FNP, of the Program of Nursing Science at University of California, Irvine, said parents can help children face adversity by being loving, accepting, supportive, and understanding and by showing kids how to manage their emotions.
Learning to manage stress is becoming an important national health issue, and it is another of the many solutions we hope to find to one day reach our vision of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!