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Stanford Medicine magazine reports on why a healthy childhood matters

The fall issue traces the lasting repercussions of early trauma and disease. Also included is an interview with former President Jimmy Carter on global discrimination against women and girls.

- By Rosanne Spector

The fall issue of the magazine explores how childhood experiences can have lasting consequences for your health.
Christopher Silas Neal

You’ve forgotten most of your childhood experiences. That’s normal. But your body remembers many of those experiences without you knowing it, and that’s normal, too. Medical researchers are discovering your body doesn’t forget, and that some of those early events will have far-reaching consequences for your health.

In the new issue of Stanford Medicine, produced with the support of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, you’ll read how researchers are developing techniques to prepare children for the healthiest possible adulthood.

“Some people think kids are protected by virtue of being kids. In fact, the opposite is true,” said pediatric psychiatrist Victor Carrion, MD, in the issue, which includes the special report “Childhood: The road ahead.” Carrion, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Stanford Early Life Stress and Pediatric Anxiety Program, discussed the long-term effects of childhood trauma, but the same goes for other types of early damage: Kids might seem resilient, but they carry hidden scars.

Certain consequences of childhood hardship or disease are easily predicted: Children with diabetes, for example, are likely to develop foot sores or eye disease when they grow up — a result of the nerve destruction diabetes is known to cause. Other reverberations emerge because survivors of once-fatal conditions are living longer: Those who’ve come through childhood cancer are at higher risk of infertility, early-onset bone weakness and development of other cancers, among other problems, all because of the long-term effects of the treatment that saved them. And then there are some repercussions that defy traditional medical expectations — like heart disease, liver disease and obesity affecting trauma survivors at higher rates than others.

The magazine also includes a Q&A with former President Jimmy Carter on discrimination against women and girls, which he considers the most serious human rights problem on Earth. “The human rights issue was brought to a highly personal level when we saw the horrible and surprising abuse of women and girls all around the world, including in the United States,” he said in the interview. The online version of the magazine includes audio of the Carter conversation.

Highlights of the magazine’s special report include:

The issue also includes an article on a surprising role for viruses in human embryos, as well as a report from India on how vision, investment and medical know-how has brought about an ambulance system — now 10 years old and one of the most important advances in global health today. The online version includes a video showing the ambulance system in action.

The magazine is available online. Print copies are being sent to subscribers. Others can request a copy at (650) 723-6911 or by sending an email to

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

2021 ISSUE 2

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