New research is taking a look at how childhood trauma can alter the development of the brain, sometimes with lasting effects that can carry into adulthood. KUNM’s Public Health reporter Deborah Martinez has the details of Dr. Elaine Bearer’s work to stop the cycle of kids “acting out” before they grow up.
University of New Mexico Professor Elaine Bearer’s research on mice suggests early childhood trauma might interfere with normal changes in the brains of children. She and her team are also studying the stress a premature baby endures.
”What are the biochemical changes that are produced by a child not getting their needs met early on,” Dr. Bearer said, “or being stressed or traumatized, and can we address those biochemical changes right away, so that they don’t play out over the long haul.”
The research is ongoing and Bearer wants to expand the project to look at 2 to 5-year-olds in the child welfare system and the impact of witnessing or being a victim of physical or sexual abuse.
Bearer said there are already drugs that can change behavior, especially in genes that are impacted by stress and trauma.