Andrew Garner, clinical professor of pediatrics and an associate with the Schubert Center for Child Studies, recently co-authored a new policy statement titled “Preventing Childhood Toxic Stress: Partnering With Families and Communities to Promote Relational Health,” for the American Academy of Pediatrics. He collaborated with Michael Yogman, assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
This revised policy statement on childhood toxic stress acknowledges a spectrum of potential adversities and reaffirms the benefits of an ecobiodevelopmental model for understanding the childhood origins of adult-manifested disease and wellness. It also endorses a paradigm shift toward relational health because SSNRs not only buffer childhood adversity when it occurs but also promote the capacities needed to be resilient in the future.
To translate this relational health framework into clinical practice, generative research and public policy, the policy states that the entire pediatric community needs to adopt a public health approach that builds relational health by partnering with families and communities. This public health approach to relational health needs to be integrated both vertically (by including primary, secondary and tertiary preventions) and horizontally (by including public service sectors beyond health care).
The American Academy of Pediatrics asserts that SSNRs are biological necessities for all children because they mitigate childhood toxic stress responses and proactively build resilience by fostering the adaptive skills needed to cope with future adversity in a healthy manner.