Poverty and Brain Development

HiResThe profound impact of poverty on children has been chronicled in lots of studies, but this week Rick and I discuss on PodMed a study that looks at specific brain areas in kids raised in poverty and those raised without that barrier.  As published in JAMA Pediatrics, the sobering revelation is that in brain areas associated with learning readiness, including the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and hippocampus, reduced gray matter was seen in those raised in poverty.

Brain composition was assessed using MRI scans from 301 participants in the NIH Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study of Normal Brain Development study. One-quarter of sample households reported their total family income below 200% of the federal poverty level, with the remainder spread across the income spectrum.  Educational attainment of parents was also assessed in this study, and perhaps most distressingly, at least for me, college and even graduate degrees of their parents offered no protection with regard to poverty or brain development for those children at the bottom of the income scale.  As I speculate with Rick in the podcast, seems like it should be fairly straightforward to find the smoking gun(s) and develop interventions to overcome this problem.  In our world of abundance, saddling children with such a disability at the very beginning of life is indefensible.

Other topics this week include the interaction of Coumadin with dicloxacillin in JAMA, bystander CPR (2) in the same journal, and likelihood of overcoming obesity in the American Journal of Public Health.  Until next week, y'all live well.

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