Starting during the prenatal period, all biological systems in the body interact with each other and adapt to the context in which a child is developing—for better or for worse.
Biological systems, including brain development, heart and lung function, digestion, energy production, fighting infection, and physical growth, are all interconnected and influence each other’s development and function.
Toxic stress, the excessive activation of stress response systems that can occur when a young child does not have supportive, caring adults, can lead to lifelong problems in learning, behavior, and physical and mental health.
The socio-emotional, physical and cognitive capacities that are built in the first three years are all important for later success in school, the workplace and the larger community.
Supportive relationships and positive learning experiences begin at home but can also be provided through a range of effective programs and policies.