ORLANDO, Fla.— Recent
research has found that a dramatic dance between genes and experience shape the
architecture of the developing brain, most profoundly during the first 1,000
days of life.
The Pediatrics for the 21st
Century (Peds21) symposium, “Promoting Early Brain and Childhood Development:
Building Brains, Forging Futures,” beginning at 12:45 p.m. ET Friday, Oct. 25,
at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition
in Orlando, brings together child development experts to discuss the latest
research regarding the role of parents and caregivers and early childhood
experiences in shaping future health.
“What’s new is the science;
we now know that early experiences alter the structure and function of the way
your genes and brain work together, not just in childhood but throughout the
lifespan,” said Andrew Garner, MD, PhD, FAAP. “Unfortunately, today, toxic
stress and early childhood adversity are quickly becoming a public health
Dr. Garner’s presentation,
“Toxic Stress and the Public Health Implications,” at Peds21 focuses on the
well-established associations between early childhood adversity and poor
outcomes in adolescence and adulthood.
By 2030, 90 percent of
disease in the U.S. will be due to non-communicable diseases caused by
unhealthy lifestyles, including smoking, obesity and substance abuse, Dr.
“These are transient ways of
coping with stress. In the short term, they make us feel better. In the long
term, they cause problems,” he said.
“Childhood adversity and stress can be toxic, and they are causing
Also discussed during the
half-day symposium are the role of parental and caregiver support, skills and
stimulation in early child development, including early literacy, and the
potential effects of early childhood exposure to electronic media in brain
children in a way that is unprecedented,” said Dimitri Christakis, MD, FAAP,
who will deliver a presentation on infant media usage. “Fast paced media can
over stimulate the developing brain, preconditioning it to expect high levels
of input, and this can lead to decreased attentional capacity later in life.
“The typical preschool child
today spent about 4.5 hours with screen media which represents 30 percent of
his or her waking hours,” he said. “To not focus on what the implications of
this are would be a huge disservice to the next generation.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization
of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and
pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being
of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit