Dr. Robert Block, immediate past-President

American Academy of Pediatrics

Early childhood adversity can trigger a toxic stress response in children’s bodies and brains, leaving them
at higher risk for problems in learning, behavior, and health. Advances in science have shown how the
early environmental influences learning capacity, and lifelong physical and mental health. Research also
shows that supportive, responsive relationships with caring adults can prevent or reverse the damaging
effects of toxic stress. In January 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a call to action for
our nation health and education policies to better prevent toxic stress. Today, we recognize that these
problems are universal. Pediatricians, parents, teachers, and policy maker can and must act to reduce
the consequences of toxic stress, and improve the health of future generations, throughout the world.
We applaud today’s call to transform the way our society invests in children, particularly those who face
significant adversity. We need this at home. And we need it abroad. The future of our global society
depends on our ability to foster healthy development of the next generation. Through our commitment
to the health of all children, and as part of the new Survive and Thrive Global Development Alliance, the
Academy stands ready to help achieve these critical goals.

Last updated: December 16, 2013

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