Childhood stress leads to hardening of the arteries in adulthood

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Many factors contribute to the increased stress in childhood, including pain, injury, illness, divorce, financial crisis, loss and/or death of a loved one

If you believe that the lives of children are generally blissful and dedicated only to having fun, think again. Children and just as susceptible to stress as teenagers and adults, and it could be just as dangerous for them.

As it turns out, childhood stress is linked to hardening of their arteries later on in their adulthood.

A New York Times wellness blog post explains:

“Finnish researchers studied 311 children 12 to 18 years old, scoring their levels of stress according to a variety of components, including the family’s economic circumstances, the emotional environment in the home, whether parents engaged in healthy behaviors, stressful events (such as divorce, moves or death of a family member) and parental concerns about the child’s social adjustment. Using these criteria, they calculated a stress score.”

The researchers then revisited these people when they reached their 40s and measured their coronary artery calcification.

The study found that, "the higher the childhood stress score, the greater the risk for coronary artery calcification.”

“I think that economic conditions are important here,” said the lead author, Dr. Markus Juonala, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Turku in Finland.

“Public health interventions should focus on how to intervene in better ways with people with higher stress and lower socioeconomic status.”

Causes of childhood stress

Many factors contribute to the increased stress in childhood, some of which include: pain, injury, illness, parents’ divorce, family’s financial crisis, loss and/or death of a loved one.

Symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Inability to relax
  • New or recurring fears (fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of strangers)
  • Clinging, unwilling to let you out of sight
  • Anger
  • Crying
  • Whining
  • Inability to control emotions
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Stubborn behavior

Here are certain things parents can do to help:

  • Provide a safe, secure, familiar, consistent, and dependable home
  • Be selective in the television programs that young children watch (including news broadcasts), which can produce fears and anxiety
  • Spend calm, relaxed time with your children
  • Encourage your child to ask questions
  • Encourage expression of concerns, worries, or fears

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Written by

James Martinez