Center for Family Strengthening is dedicated to strengthening families through education and advocacy. The center partners with family support organizations in San Luis Obispo County to provide resources to families in need, protect children from abuse and neglect, and ensure that strong families are a community priority.

Helping families thrive.

Effects of Childhood Stress on Health Across the Lifespan



Stress is an inevitable part of life. Human beings experience stress early,even before they are born. A certain amount of stress is normal and necessary for survival. Stress helps children develop the skills they need to cope with and adapt to new and potentially threatening situations throughoutlife.

Support from parents and/or other concerned caregivers is necessary for children to learn how to respond to stress in a physically and emotionallyhealthy manner.The beneficial aspects of stress diminish when it is severe enough to overwhelma child’s ability to cope effectively. Intensive and prolonged stress can lead to a variety of short- and long-term negative health effects.It can disrupt early brain development and compromise functioning of thenervous and immune systems. In addition, childhood stress can leadto health problems later in life including alcoholism, depression, eatingdisorders, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.    

The purpose of this publication is to summarize the research on childhood stress and its implications for adult health and well-being. Of particular interest is the stress caused by child abuse, neglect, and repeated exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV). We hope this publication provides practitioners, especially those working in violence prevention, with ideas about how to incorporate this information into their work.



29 November 2015

29 November 2015

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