Mitigating Trauma and Loss for Infants and Toddlers

First3Years recently invited Dr. Kate Rosenblum of the University of Michigan to the DFW area to share more about new directions and emerging research in making developmentally informed decisions in working with young children and their families.

Dr. Rosenblum spoke at the 2016 First3years Annual Meeting and Conference on September 16: Promoting Positive Outcomes Across Generations, attended by more than 110 early childhood professionals.


“Babies can never forget what they can’t remember” – Dr. Rosenblum

In her keynote address, Dr. Rosenblum shared how trauma in infancy can have lasting impacts into adulthood. Research (MACY study) shows that mothers who had a traumatic childhood carry traumatic “background music” in their views and interactions of their infants. Dr. Rosenblum also shared that there is hope for change. Animal research studies show that when highly stressed infant rats were paired with low-stress rat mothers, the highly-stressed infant rats grew up to be sensitive caregivers. This highlights the role of epigenetics; although highly stressed infants had the genes to grow up to be highly stressed adults, sensitive caregiving by low-stress mothers changed the presentation of the high-stress genes to look more like low stress genes. This is promising in our intervention programs working with at-risk mothers and parents. It is important to use the research to guide our efforts to maximize our resources when intervening on behalf of infants and toddlers.

The day before the conference, Dr. Rosenblum also held a training for our Safe Babies program. On September 15, Dr. Rosenblum guided trainees through the impact of trauma on children and caregivers, bio-psycho-social pathways for the transmission of risk, and developmentally and trauma-informed interventions.

The impact of trauma on these formative years can be devastating, escalating fear and stress responses that without appropriate trauma-informed intervention can set the stage for myriad future concerns.

The training exceeded expectations across the board, with one participant sharing:

“This information helps an advocate to better understand the emotional and developmental hurdles for all children. Our family is also preparing to foster to adopt a traumatized child.”

The 48 trainees, ranging from child placement caseworkers to CVS conservators to judges and educators, will be able to implement and share these approaches, ultimately impacting over 6,600 infants and toddlers across the state.

The topic of trauma in the early years is something that we, at First3Years focus on as it relates directly to our mission of educating, advocating, and collaborating to advance the healthy development of infants and toddlers.