There is overwhelming evidence that early childhood adversity—related to parental psychiatric disorder, poverty, abuse, loss, neglect, or trauma—has protean effects on children's physical and mental health and ultimately on their ability to become competent and productive adults. While there are stories of heroic youth who overcome the most disadvantageous of backgrounds, for most, early adversity casts a long shadow into adult life and even into the next generation. In this Viewpoint, we discuss the strong link between early adversity and chronic physical and mental disability and offer some recommendations for research, practice, and policy.
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