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Researchers to analyse toxic stress in children



Analysts are seeking changes in healthcare practice through in depth studies of toxic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder in children.

The research will include peer-review academic papers written by global experts. It was launched this week as part of a series of research collections by the medical journal The BMJ and the global initiative the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).

Researchers will examine the long-term effects of toxic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children that can be caused by a range of reasons, such as growing up in a war zone to parental divorce.

The report will bring together studies that analyse the long-term effects of the stress on children’s mental and physical health. Toxic stress can have health implications for the rest of a child’s life, shaping not just their emotional lives as adults, but also their physical health and life expectancy.

The new partnership between The BMJ and WISH will produce policy recommendations on toxic stress and PTSD in children. The research will be published in The BMJ for healthcare professionals. The aim is to inform practical change within healthcare systems.

Charles Nelson, a professor of paediatrics at Harvard Medical School, writing in The BMJ last month, presented evidence to show adversity in childhood is linked to mental and physical health throughout life.

Both the short-term and long-term consequences of stress exposure have significant implications for public health and place financial tolls on healthcare systems, Mr Nelson wrote.

Sultana Afdhal, chief executive officer of WISH, said: ‘One of the goals of our biennial summits is to find optimal ways for evidence-based research to be translated into practical policy-driven solutions that help deliver healthcare in an efficient and cost-effective manner worldwide.’

The BMJ will also work with WISH to publish collections on healthy dry cities and the relationship between climate change and communicable diseases.

Professor Kamran Abbasi, executive editor of The BMJ, said: ‘We are delighted to have the opportunity to work on these important areas with the support of WISH. Our expert teams have produced exceptional reports with clear recommendations for health professionals and policymakers.’

He added: ‘The challenge now is to act on these recommendations to counter the impacts on health of toxic stress, climate change, and water shortage. This year’s summit will play an important part in moving those issues from research into policy.’