Research Update: Early Life Stresses, Physical Activity & Families, Health Disparities & Disability

Early life stress can leave lasting impacts on the brain

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, have taken a close look at the amygdala and hippocampus of children who have experienced stressors early in life. They found that stressors such as physical abuse, neglect, and low social economic status, were associated with smaller amygdalas and hippocampi. These brain structures are believed to be related to memory and learning.

Associations between objectively assessed child and parental physical activity: a cross-sectional study of families with 5-6 year old children

This article, available in full-text from BioMedCentral Public Health, looked at physical activity levels of young children and their parents. The study found that children reached the recommended duration of physical activity less often than their parents. While 80% of adults reached the recommended level of physical activity, only 29% of boys and 47% of girls did so. This may mean that children and their parents do not have the opportunities or resources to engage in physical activity in mutually satisfying ways.

Little Progress Made in Reducing Health Disparities for People with Disabilities

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that chronic illness is much more prevalent for adults with physical disabilities, and even more so for those with physical disabilities and psychological distress. The chronic illnesses measured include arthritis, asthma, coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and stroke. Additionally, persons who had both physical disabilities and psychological distress face other barriers to health, in particular accessing health care through insurance and monetary means.

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