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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.
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