Study suggests children in poor families have smaller brains

A new study suggests that children that are born into poor families have smaller brains than those that are born into families that are well off. However, the disadvantage can be overcome by strong parenting. Researchers that took part in the study found that kids that grew up in poor areas oftentimes had smaller hippocampus amygdale volumes than their counterparts. This part of the brain is chiefly responsible for regulating emotions and memory.

Lead Author of the study, Dr. Joan Luby, stated that larger brains are generally considered to be healthier brains and the result of a smaller brain is usually a poorer outcome because the brain is not considered to be as healthy. Studies in the past have looked at brain size and poverty and discovered the same thing, but Luby and her research team were more interested in looking at why these brain changes occur between economic levels.

One thing they noticed is that kids that have a stressful home life or those with parents that are unsupportive or hostile oftentimes have much smaller brains. This offers researchers and parents a new target to overcome according to Luby. The report was published by the team by JAMA Pediatrics and took a close look at 145 children from the inner city.

All of the children included in the study were between the ages of six and 12 and had their brains imaged when the study started. They were studied since preschool with regular imaging to watch the brain growth. Also included in annual screenings were tests that looked at the children’s stress levels and whether they were in puberty yet or not. They found that poor families tended to have children with smaller brains but lack of parental support and stressful life events were the major contributors to this fact.

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