Inflammation may connect adverse life events to children’s emotional and social difficulties

New research provides evidence that inflammation is related to the development of internalizing symptoms in children, such as social withdrawal, anxiety and depressed mood. The findings appear in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

“Much research has linked adverse life events to the aetiology and maintenance of emotional and behavioural problems in children. These psychosocial stressors can initiate biological processes that increase risk for both types of problems in children but no study had yet examined inflammation as the stressor-induced biological process that can increase this risk,” said study author Eirini Flouri, a professor of developmental psychology at the UCL Institute of Education.

“Inflammation is typically thought of as the body’s primary response to physical injury or infection. However, there is now substantial evidence that stressors can also trigger significant increases in inflammatory activity which may account for how external stressors ‘get under the skin.’”