Adversity in childhood can give rise to a toxic stress response with lifelong impact, not only on mental health but also on physical health, as well as intergenerational effects through epigenetic inheritance. In this interview, Prof. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta discusses the effects of long-term stress on children’s physical and mental development and developing strategies to mitigate these ill-effects. Prof. Bhutta was co-chair of the ‘Toxic Stress and PTSD in Children’ report being presented at WISH 2020. This interview was recorded on 13 November and has been edited for length and clarity.

Prof. Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Co-Director of the Centre for Global Child Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto and Founding Director of the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Aga Khan University speaks to Richard Hurley, Features Editor at The BMJ.