The Effect of Poverty on Brain Development
22 percent of children in the U.S. live in poverty, which can have long-lasting undesirable consequences on development.
An upsetting 22 percent of children in the United States live in poverty, which can have long-lasting undesirable consequences on brain development, emotional health and academic achievement. Now, even more convincing evidence is suggesting that growing up in poverty has detrimental effects on the brain. The study in JAMA Pediatrics, by a team of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that low-income children had irregular brain development and lower standardized test scores, with as much as an estimated 20 percent gap in achievement explained by developmental delays in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.
New research shows, however, that nurturing by parents can offset some of the negative effects on brain anatomy seen in children who live in poverty. Based on this new research and what already is known about the damaging effects of poverty on brain development in children, as well as the benefits of nurturing during early childhood, parents now have a rare roadmap to preserving and supporting our society's most important legacy, the developing brain.