How Neglect and Abuse Change Children’s Brains

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From the Center for Health Journalism: Different types of childhood adversity shape the developing brain in distinct ways and need to be addressed accordingly. While growing up in a violent home can lead to hypervigilance and high levels of anxiety, neglect may result in understimulation and difficulty with cognitive tasks.

“‘Not all adversity is created equal,’ McLaughlin said. ‘Those two types of adversity impact the developing brain in distinct ways, and require different interventions.’ Speaking to fellows at the 2017 National Fellowship this week, McLaughlin explained that around one in four mental health problems in adults can be explained by stresses in childhood. Stresses like poverty, neglect and abuse all manifest differently in the brain and can cause different mental health issues later in life.”

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