Poverty Disturbs Children's Brain Development and Academic Performance

"Income inequality is growing in the U.S., and the problem is much worse than most people believe. For children, growing up poor hinders brain development and leads to poorer performance in schools, according to a study published this week in JAMA Pediatrics."

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"up to 20 percent of the achievement gap between high- and low-income children may be explained by differences in brain development."

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"The researchers found that children who grew up in families below the federal poverty line had gray matter volumes 8 to 10 percent below normal development."

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"The gap in brain development was still present at age 22."

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"The results were clear—the effects of low socioeconomic status are apparent even in kids who grew up otherwise healthy."

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"A recent report from the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that in 2013, 51 percent of students in U.S. public schools were from low-income families. Children who grow up in low-income families are exposed to more environmental stressors, such as less access to healthy food, unsafe neighborhoods and stressed parents.

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"I used to think about poverty as a question of social policy. Now I think of it as a biomedical problem, an environmental condition or toxin that’s affecting children,” Pollak says.

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