Sheri Marino MA, CCC-SLP

Sheri Marino MA, CCC-SLP

Director, Pediatric Health Initiatives | BIO

Part 4-The Special Ed Epidemic: What the Science Says on Chronic Stress During Pregnancy

Since maternal immune response, absent of infection in the fetus, can cause harm to the fetal brain, maternal stress therefore creates vulnerability. Studies have shown that prenatal maternal stress (PNMS) increases the production of stress hormones like cortisol which prepares individuals to deal with stress. Cortisol plays a role in the development of the fetus and in preparing the mother’s body for childbirth. However, attenuations of elevated maternal cortisol from chronic stress can cause immune dysregulation and chronic inflammation which greatly increases the risk of poor health outcomes in the fetus. Research suggests that offspring of mothers who experience high levels of stress during pregnancy are more likely to have problems in neurobehavioral development including autism and ADHD and have an increased risk for childhood behavior and emotional problems, language delay, cognitive problems, mixed handedness, and later onset disorders such as schizophrenia.

Additionally, maternal stress as a social determinant of health creates vulnerability in children as it is associated with low birth weight, diminishes innate immunity, and increases the likelihood of neurological dysfunction.

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Sheri Marino MA, CCC-SLP

Director, Pediatric Health Initiatives

Sheri is a pediatric speech and language pathologist with over 25 years of clinical experience specializing in autism. As the Director of Pediatric Health Initiatives for the Focus for Health Foundation, Sheri contributes her clinical expertise authoring articles on autism and other chronic health issues and also manages the pediatric health grantees. Sheri’s professional experiences help guide the Foundation’s mission addressing chronic health issues related to environmental causes. Sheri also serves as the Executive Director of The Autism Think Tank, NJ, a non-profit organization which offers medical videoconferences with a team of renowned medical experts who collaborate on medically complex cases of autism around the globe. She is the founder of Rocking Horse Rehab, a pediatric rehabilitation and family wellness center specializing in therapy services for children with various disabilities including, autism, cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, brain tumors, and rare syndromes, neuromuscular and psychiatric disorders. Sheri has been featured on CBS News, NBC News, NJN and multiple cable networks.

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