If India strives to “get it right” for its children in their first decade — ensure nutrition, health, sleep, education — when they are most vulnerable to trauma, it could unlock the nation’s demographic dividend and power of youth, says an Indian neurobiologist. This is the time when children are in school, they are facing quite a bit of peer pressure, performance anxiety is coming in way earlier which was not the case before and they are dealing with so many other issues, she reasons.
What is also interesting to note is even severe stress in adults sometimes doesn’t produce the kind of long-lasting effects that relatively milder stresses do in early life: expose kids to increased risk of psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety and drug-addiction. The chink in the chain lies way down at the molecular level. They are engendered in the way epigenetic enzymes (chemicals that act as catalysts in reactions that go on inside our body) manage the translation of instructions stored in genes to products such as proteins.