Studies show that brain growth makes the early years of life qualitatively and quantitatively different


Prof.Harrison’s address at Infant Parent Mental Health Workshop at KEMU
Studies show that brain growth makes
the early years of life qualitatively and
quantitatively different

By Dr. Nazish Imran

LAHORE: An interactive workshop on Infant Parent Mental Health was organized in King Edward Medical University by Academic Department of Psychiatry & Child Psychiatry Department. On November 2, 2019. Facilitators were Professor Alexandra Harrison from Harvard University and Professor Zeeshan from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, USA. Professor Khalid Masood Gondal who was the Chief Guest on the occasion in his speech highlighted the importance of the parent-child relationship in Infancy and how it promotes the child’s mental, linguistic and emotional development in addition to helping the child exhibit optimistic and confident social behaviour. He also emphasized on how healthy parent involvement and intervention in the child’s day-to-day life lay the foundation for better social and academic skills.

Prof. Khalid Masood Gondal VC KEMU presenting a memento to Prof. Harrison at the
workshop on Infant Parent Mental Health Workshop held at KEMU recently. Picture
also shows Prof. Aftab Asif, Prof. Nazish
Imran and Prof. Saira Afzal.

Prof. Harrison mentioned that purpose of infant mental health is to advance the quality of mental health services for infants and young children in the context of their earliest relationships. The goals of the Infant Mental Health field are to promote emotional well-being in young children and their families, to reduce risk factors, and to prevent and/or ameliorate emotional problems. She and Dr Zeeshan in their presentation highlighted how a clear understanding of infant mental health will significantly assist a clinician’s ability to provide high-quality Paediatric care for children and their families, given the new understanding of its role in overall development. Irrefutable evidence indicates that brain growth makes the first years of life qualitatively and quantitatively different than any other time of life. Using videos, they focused on how early experience ‘shapes the brain, affecting lifelong health, behaviour and learning. No other stage depends more on the external environment for growth and development. Very young children, whose brains are still extremely malleable to environmental stress, also respond differently to external stress than older children. While later interventions are also effective and essential, the return on investment is greatest in the earliest years.

Group photograph taken during the workshop on Infant Parent Mental Health held at
KEMU recently at KEMU shows Prof. Khalid Masood Gondal VC KEMU, Prof. Harrison
the Guest Speaker alongwith other
senior faculty members of the KEMU.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences study shows that traumatic or abusive events in childhood are associated with depression, cardiovascular disease, cancer, alcoholism and drug abuse in adult life, as well as encounters with the justice/legal system, and risk-taking behaviour later in adolescence and adulthood. The importance of parenting as its role as a buffer against adversities was also highlighted.

Highlight of the event was practical demonstration of mother child interaction with three mothers from local community. Special Guests included Prof Haroon Hamid (Chairman Paediatric Department KEMU), Professor Iftikhar (Head, Pediatrics unit 2, KEMU), Prof Saira Afzal (Head of Community Medicine, KEMU), Prof. Rameeza (Head of Preventive Paediatric, Fatima Jinnah Medical University) Dr Anjum Nawaz (Radiology Department) among others. The event was attended by mental health professionals, nurses, Pediatricians, Gynecologists, Lady Health Visitors and Parents.

Professor Khalid Masood Gondal (TI) presented the KEMU history book and shields to the Honourable guests. Professor Aftab Asif and Dr Nazish Imran thanked the guests and audience for a successful academic activity.