Development is characterized by quantitative and qualitative changes that occur in a predetermined sequence. However, development could be affected by adversities, which change its typical course. The present study aimed to carry out a review of the concept of toxic stress, used in the Shonkoff’s Ecobiodevelopmental Theory, and to analyze its impact on human development. A search was conducted in the PubMed database, which yielded 12 conceptual articles from 2000 to 2013. The results were categorized into themes. The theory proposed by Shonkoff aims to elucidate the impact of stress on child development, based on other developmental theories. Toxic stress pertains to the prolonged activation of the body as a response to the stress system that can provoke neurobiological and psychological damages. The interventions proposed in the reviewed studies were effective in minimizing the negative effects of this type of stress, as well as in providing support to the caregivers of children.
Childhood development; Health; Stress