The Effects Of Stress On Infants And Young Children

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genes to either turn on or turn off as a response to our immediate environment, either within the womb or after birth. Many psychological theorists believe that our environment shapes us as individuals and one of the ways our environment shapes us is through stress, either experienced directly or indirectly. Stress is a complex physiobiological response that can have enduring biological, emotional, and behavioral consequences (Lupien et al, 2009). A fetus is sensitive to hormonal and other physiological indicators of stress within the womb and exposure to stress carries on after conception and continues to affect emotional and cognitive functioning of infants and young children. Similar to many other psychological disorders, ADHD has roots early in life. After birth, stress continues to affect infants and young children in comparable ways when they exposed to stress. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis (the body 's regulatory system that integrates the nervous system with the endocrine system and controls reactions to stress) matures significantly during the early childhood. Exposure to stress early in life has programming effects on the brain (hippocampus, frontal cortex, and amygdala) and chronic stress changes HPA functioning by altering the neurological circuitry, in part through its effects on the limbic and cortical processes (Ulrich-Lai & Herman. 2009). The behaviors correlated with disrupted HPA activity include heightened vigilance and
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