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Childhood Poverty: It's Most Harmful To Brain Development, Study Suggests

First Posted: Jul 20, 2015 09:08 PM EDT

The most long-lasting scars of poverty may not be so easy to spot right away. According to new findings published in JAMA Pediatrics, for children growing up in poverty, this will most likely affect their development, with statistics showing that roughly 22 percent of children in the United States are currently living in poverty.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., examined various factors that conditions of poverty disrupt, including academic performance and health, and they analyzed data on the most recent scientific literature on the subject by composing one of the most comprehensive surveys on childhood poverty and the developing brain.

Previous studies have shown how the scars of childhood poverty can negatively influence both emotional and psychological health, resulting in lowered academic performance, as well as an increased risk of certain mental health issues.

"Our research has shown that the effects of poverty on the developing brain, particularly in the hippocampus, are strongly influenced by parenting and life stresses experienced by the children," child psychiatrist Joan L. Luby, director of Washington University's Early Emotional Development Program, said in news release.

However, in an accompanying editorial, Luby also noted how "early childhood interventions to support a nurturing environment for these children must now become our top public health priority for the good of all."

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