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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

African American Woman Doctor Pioneers a Different Way to Treat Stress in Children

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

San Francisco, CA — A pioneer in the field of medicine, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is a leader in the movement to transform how we respond to early childhood adversity and the resulting toxic stress that dramatically impacts our health and longevity. By revealing the science behind childhood adversity, she offers a new way to understand the adverse events that affect all of us throughout our lifetimes.

As a pediatrician, a mom and the founder/CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness, Dr. Burke Harris has brought these scientific discoveries and her new approach to audiences at the Mayo Clinic, American Academy of Pediatrics and Google Zeitgeist.

Her motivation

Shortly after opening a pediatrics clinic in a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco, she began to wonder why so many of her patients had asthma and other illnesses. She especially saw that too many children were so sick with no warranted reason.

She told the Washington Post, “They would have chronic abdominal pain, headaches, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, opposition defiant disorder. It could be that all these different kids have all these diagnoses, or it could be that there is one thing at the root of this.”

But she finally figured it out after reviewing a 10-year old medical study that revealed a strong link between chronic disease and traumatic experiences during childhood. These experiences could include physical abuse, neglect, and more. Then it finally made sense to her: The reason why so many of her young patients were sick was because of the “high doses” of trauma in their lives.

Doing things differently

From that point forward, Dr. Burke Harris started evaluating children not just for their medical histories, but also their social histories and traumatic experiences. And instead of treating only symptoms, she sought to help with the root causes of the stress that were making them sick.

In 2013, she launched the The Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, as part of a national effort to revolutionize pediatric medicine and transform the way society responds to kids exposed to significant adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress.

Recently, she and the Center for Youth Wellness have joined the University of California Benioff Children’s Hospital (San Francisco & Oakland) in the first ever research collaborative on toxic stress to validate an ACEs screening tool, evaluate promising interventions and identify predictive biomarkers.

For more details about Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, visit www.drnadineburkeharris.com

For more details about her Center for Youth Wellness, visit www.centerforyouthwellness.org

Watch her popular YouTube video below: