February 25, 2012

Indians suffer toxic stress

Science explains some of the world's poverty and crime. This applies to poor Americans in general and poor Indians in particular.

A Poverty Solution That Starts With a Hug

By Nicholas F. KristofThis month, the American Academy of Pediatrics is issuing a landmark warning that this toxic stress can harm children for life. I’m as skeptical as anyone of headlines from new medical studies (Coffee is good for you! Coffee is bad for you!), but that’s not what this is.

Rather, this is a “policy statement” from the premier association of pediatricians, based on two decades of scientific research. This has revolutionary implications for medicine and for how we can more effectively chip away at poverty and crime.

Toxic stress might arise from parental abuse of alcohol or drugs. It could occur in a home where children are threatened and beaten. It might derive from chronic neglect—a child cries without being cuddled. Affection seems to defuse toxic stress—keep those hugs and lullabies coming!—suggesting that the stress emerges when a child senses persistent threats but no protector.

Cues of a hostile or indifferent environment flood an infant, or even a fetus, with stress hormones like cortisol in ways that can disrupt the body’s metabolism or the architecture of the brain.

The upshot is that children are sometimes permanently undermined. Even many years later, as adults, they are more likely to suffer heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other physical ailments. They are also more likely to struggle in school, have short tempers and tangle with the law.
Comment:  We know the long list of "ills" that afflict Indians and others who are poor or disadvantaged. This posting suggests why the cycles of poverty and crime keep repeating themselves.

For more on the subject, see Review of Older than America and "Thick Dark Fog" = PTSD.

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