Topic 1.6 Trauma and the connection between the brain and immune system

New research shows the brain and the body’s immune system are connected.

The connection between the brain and the immune system explains how stress can cause physical problems with health and disease.

Children who experience many incidents of trauma over time may live shorter lives.    

Some of the problems related to repeated and long-term exposure include: Less ability to react in ways that match the situation.

  • Less ability to react in ways that match the situation.
  • Less ability to learn, remember, and problem-solve.
  • Less ability to cope with stress, which can result in more fighting, arguing, defiance, or disengagement.
  • Less social and emotional skills which are needed to grow and keep important relationships with peers and adults.
  • More stress hormones in the body and a more difficult time settling down after experiencing stress.
  • The body living in a constant state of perceived danger that increases heart rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns, and muscle tension.

Research shows that children experiencing negative impacts of ACES exposure are at greater risk for:

  • Teen pregnancy,
  • Drug and alcohol abuse,
  • Smoking,
  • Depression and other mental health disorders,
  • Heart and liver disease,
  • Risky sexual behavior,
  • Sexually transmitted diseases,
  • Dangerous behavior, and
  • Suicide.

Consider Contessa

Contessa, a four year old who recently joined your classroom. You notice she has a hard time with bowel movements, and last week during the fire drill, she had a hard time settling down. You mention this to her grandmother, who let you know Contessa’s father was emotionally abusive to both Contessa and her siblings.