Childhood adversity has ripple effects that extend into adulthood, next generation

Dr. David A. Brent, a pediatrician and specialist in epidemiological psychiatry, called for significant changes to the delivery of mental health care for children during a meeting held by the Journal of the American Medical Association, reports Medical Daily. Specifically, Brent advocated for earlier intervention and a model whereby the primary care physician plays a central role in creating a comprehensive strategy to address the issues faced by at-risk children.

He pointed to the strong research that links a troubled childhood with a multitude of adulthood complications–including cardiac disease, obesity, depression and substance abuse–as well as animal studies that have shown that environmental stressors can alter the expression of genes within a person, leading to one’s childhood “hangovers and hangups” transmitting from one generation to the next.

“‘The good news is that, if detected early enough, the impact of family adversity on child health outcomes can be reversed, or at least attenuated,’ Brent said.”