Inner child

The effects of our earliest experiences

"For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be."

Author John Connolly wasn’t writing about human health when he penned this line, but it aptly describes a modern medical insight: Events that take place during our earliest years have far-reaching consequences for our health when we mature.

Some of these consequences are obvious. A child diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, for example, may grapple with eye or foot damage later in life. Others are becoming evident as survivors of once-fatal conditions are living further and further into adulthood. Children may conquer cancer only to face infertility, organ trouble and early osteoporosis as they grow older. And some outcomes illustrate the need to safeguard all aspects of kids’ health. A child who copes with chronic trauma — abuse, neglect, parental dysfunction — is more likely to have heart disease as an adult.

No matter the threat to children’s well-being, researchers are developing techniques to set them up for the healthiest possible adulthood. To see how they’re helping kids thrive, read on.

Additional Reading

Blood quest

It was 1983, and alarm was rising over the deadly virus that would come to be known as HIV. Ed Engleman thought blood banks would welcome his screening test with open arms. He was wrong

The woman who fell to Earth

Deborah Shurson strapped on her gear and stepped into the Cessna 206 that would take her 2,600 feet into the air