What are the most important elements in my child's development?

I just returned from an amazing week-long symposium on Early Brain and Biology Development. The faculty came from all over North America and Europe. If I can summarize, there are four important elements: genetics, epigenetics, adverse child experiences and relationships. 

Genetics. DNA is the molecular code that determines practically everything about us from hair colour and fingerprints to IQ and demeanor. This is familiar to anyone who watches crime stories on TV. 

Epigenetics. Whether these genes get to express themselves depends on epigenetics or environmental factors that sign the gene with 'Please enter' or 'Do not disturb'. A child may be genetically predisposed to Type 2 Diabetes but if weight is kep within normal range, it may never develop.

Adverse childhood experiences. These are events in a child's life that trigger the stress response without it being leveled off by either the child or a caretaker. These experiences could include abuse, neglect, parental depression or anxiety, addiction or domestic violence.

Relationships. These are the moderating factors that protect the child from toxic stress and lifelong health impacts from stress. Mom/baby is the #1 relationship. Mom/baby/Dad is being found to be another critical relationship that can protect the child from negative outcomes. Other positive relationships develop and can also be protective.

The interaction of these four elements will dictate your child's development. The most important way to strengthen the positives is through relationships. They are a very powerful modifier of toxic stress. 

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Stimulation and healthy habits are important to a child's development. Watch this video with  Dr. Mike Roizen and Dr. Ellen Rome for ways parents can strengthen these elements in their child's enviroment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.