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The #ChildrenCanThrive  campaign seeks to transform our response to the public health crisis of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and their long term effects.

Join the #ChildrenCanThrive Campaign so all children grow up happy and healthy.

POLITICO: Toxic Childhoods

Feb 8, 2017

A toddler came into my examination room recently at Bayview Child Health Center in Bayview Hunters Point, an underserved, largely African-American neighborhood in San Francisco. Her mother was worried that she wasn’t growing properly, and she was right: At the age of 2½, her daughter ranked at the very bottom of the height and weight charts that pediatricians use to gauge whether kids are growing normally. My patient’s mom had tried everything she could to help her daughter eat right and gain weight but nothing seemed to be working. It appeared to be a classic case of what doctors call “failure to thrive."

Lots of children “fail to thrive,” for one reason or another, with higher rates occurring in economically disadvantaged areas. Decades of research have linked race and income to health disparities: If you are poor and African-American or Latino, the statistics show that you are more likely to have asthma or obesity as a child, and get a heart attack or die of cancer as an adult.

But the statistics alone can’t tell you why. My patients taught me the answer. It turns out that there’s a little-known factor damaging long-term health that plays out most profoundly in struggling communities like Bayview yet can affect Americans of any ethnicity, background or income level: toxic stress in childhood. As the United States grows more diverse, understanding the science behind toxic stress gives us new tools to improve the health of ethnic minorities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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About Center for Youth Wellness The Center for Youth Wellness is part of a national effort to revolutionize pediatric medicine and transform the way society responds to kids exposed to significant adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress.

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