Summary: The Impact of Stress on Child Health in Impoverished Communities

Children are more largely susceptible to physiological effects of stress as they are still developing. Children in poverty, are disproportionately exposed to stressors that contribute to poor health outcomes. In my paper I focused on types of stress responses, the physiology of stress, the relationship between poverty, stress, and health, and maternal influence.

Three types of stress responses were devised by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, and consist of positive, tolerable, and toxic. In my paper I focus on tolerable and toxic stress that are the most likely to cause lasting damage on a child’s physiology. I also briefly cover the physiology of stress to set a foundation for my discussion further on in the paper.

I then discussed the impact of poverty on stress and health, and how things such as striving for socioeconomic attainment can lead to great stress, and future health problems.

As for Maternal Influence, I split it up into multiple sections: Education, Mental Health, Exposure to Stress, and Responsivity.

The findings from all of the studies I used show how significant the effect of stress on children can be, especially for those from low SES areas. The well-documented effects of stress on a child’s physiology emphasizes the importance of public and private programs that foster mentoring relationships, provide access to safe social areas, and encourage education. Because family interactions can be a large contributor to stress that is experienced, programs should also focus on improving parent-child relationship and family dynamics. Services that do such have the ability to not only impact a child’s immediate wellness but also improve their health into adulthood. In addition to increased access to services, childhood policy should always take a life course perspective and acknowledge that even pre and early postnatal environments can impact the health of a child and subsequently their health into adulthood.