Living in poverty can have detrimental consequences on brain development, emotional health and academic achievement
Dr. Joan L. Luby, pediatric psychiatrist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, notes that “early childhood interventions to support a nurturing environment for these children must now become our top public health priority for the good of all.”
A new study, published by JAMA Pediatrics, provides compelling evidence that growing up in poverty has serious negative effects on children’s brain, like irregular frontal and temporal lobes development and lower standardized test scores. In their research about young children living in poverty, Dr. Luby and her colleagues have identified changes in the brain’s structure that further lead to depression, learning difficulties and low stress management rates.
Nurturing and very supportive parents though can have an extremely important role in avoiding or minimizing these effects. “Our research has shown that the effects of poverty on the developing brain, particularly in the hippo-campus, are strongly influenced by parenting and life stresses experienced by the children,” said Dr. Luby.
The study clearly elucidates both the cause and the solution for a common public health and social problem for countries all over the world. “It is even less common that feasible and cost-effective solutions to such problems are discovered and within reach”, Dr. Luby concluded, as 22% of children struggle with daily poverty, in the USA only.