Natalie Slopen
June 1, 2020

Natalie Slopen, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, told U.S. News and World Report that extensive research shows excessive or prolonged exposure to stress in childhood and adolescence is harmful to healthy childhood development. 

"And this has implications for lifelong learning, behavior and health," Slopen said in the article.

She explained that part of the link childhood stresses and health problems is direct— for example, stress hormones can lead to inflammation, which raises the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease. But, childhood stress can also cause indirect problems, like an increased risk for being overweight and having disrupted sleep or smoking. 

And children who suffer adversity are less likely to pursue education. 

"These children are more likely to have parents who have to work out of their home, so they may be more likely to be experiencing the financial consequences," Slopen said. "And their parents may also be more likely to have underlying health conditions that make the illness of COVID-19 more severe and potentially deadly."

The pandemic is likely to increase childhood stress through food insecurity, household stress levels and parents' substance abuse, all of which are linked to lifelong health issues for children, Slopen explained. 

"These children are more likely to have parents who have to work out of their home, so they may be more likely to be experiencing the financial consequences," Slopen said. "And their parents may also be more likely to have underlying health conditions that make the illness of COVID-19 more severe and potentially deadly."

Read the full story here

Related Links

U.S. News and World Report: For Kids, a Pandemic of Stress Could Have Long-Term Consequences