Poverty during early childhood linked to lesser brain development in teens

Washington, Oct 29 (ANI): A new study suggests that poverty in early childhood appears to be associated with smaller brain volumes measured through imaging at school age and early adolescence.

Poverty is known to be associated with a higher risk of poor cognitive outcomes and school performance, according to the study background.

Joan Luby, M.D., of the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and colleagues investigated the effect of poverty on brain development by examining white and cortical gray matter, as well as hippocampus and amygdala volumes in a group of children ages 6 to 12 years who were followed since preschool.

The 145 children were recruited from a larger group of children who participated in a preschool depression study.

The authors reported that "exposure to poverty during early childhood is associated with smaller white mater, cortical gray matter, and hippocampal and amygdala volumes."

Study findings also indicate that the effects of poverty on hippocampal volume were mediated (influenced) by caregiving and stressful life events.

The study is published by JAMA Pediatrics, a JAMA Network publication. (ANI)

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