Mother-Child Bond and Mitigating Toxic Stress
JULY 10, 2018
In three newly released statements *(part 1, 2, 3), the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) alerts physicians and parents to the benefits of the mother-child bond, and the risks that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can have upon the young child. Research now shows that anxiety, depression, or intimate partner violence experienced by women while pregnant, in addition to traumatic events experienced during childhood, may adversely impact the development of children. These adverse childhood experiences can cause chronic toxic stress and thereby increase an individual’s risk for cardiac disease, stroke, diabetes, and mental illness as an adult.
Fortunately, responsive parenting can alleviate much of the impact of toxic stress. Responsive parenting is a style of nurturance in which parents are attuned to their children, and discipline them in a firm and supportive way. This can be effectively taught to parents and has long been recognized as beneficial to children.
Dr. Quentin Van Meter, president of the ACPeds, stated, “Mothers and fathers contribute to the wellbeing of their children in important yet different ways. Here we review some of the effects of the unique maternal-infant bond in utero upon the child’s health later in life.”
The American College of Pediatricians encourages all healthcare professionals to support the mother-infant dyad throughout pregnancy and childhood, by providing appropriate resources to safeguard pregnancy and prevent adverse childhood experiences.
* The Infant – Mother Connection and Implications for their Future Health