Infant Mental Health for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Stress is a normal part of life even for babies. The body responds to stress by producing cortisol. Toxic stress lasts over weeks and months rarely allowing the cortisol level in the body to return to baseline. Toxic stress occurs in situations of chronic neglect, on-going abuse, and poverty. Toxic stress in childhood can negatively impact brain development, cardiovascular health, and increase insulin resistance.
The White House’s tactics to reduce toxic stress and its aftereffects include: more home visiting programs like the evidence-based Nurse-Family Partnership, increasing the number of Infant-Toddler Mental Health Specialists, and instituting early screening to assess for maladaptive situations and behaviors.
References and Resources:
Harvard Center on the Developing Child – Three Core Concepts in Early Development: