Research Links Poor Children’s Stress and Brain Impairment

By | April 7, 2009

As unemployment lines, like this one last month in Tallahassee, get longer, more children are forced into poverty. Researchers say that the longer a child lives in poverty, the lower he or she tends to score on working-memory tests.Children raised in poverty suffer many ill effects: They often have health problems and tend to struggle in school, which can create a cycle of poverty across generations.

Now, research is providing what could be crucial clues to explain how childhood poverty translates into dimmer chances of success: Chronic stress from growing up poor appears to have a direct impact on the brain, leaving children with impairment in at least one key area — working memory.

“There’s been lots of evidence that low-income families are under tremendous amounts of stress, and we know that stress has many implications,” said Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., who led the research. “What this data raises is the possibility that it’s also related to cognitive development.”

With the economic crisis threatening to plunge more children into poverty, other researchers said the work offers insight into how poverty affects long-term achievement and underscores the potential ramifications of chronic stress early in life.

via Research Links Poor Children’s Stress and Brain Impairment – washingtonpost.com.

Yet some people grow up poor and manage to become quite successful. What is that?

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