Inner child

The effects of our earliest experiences

Fall Winter 2016

“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.