Thursday, September 03, 2015

it's the poverty stupid!!!

medicalexpress |  A six-year study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has added to the mounting evidence that growing up in severe poverty affects how children's brains develop, potentially putting them at a lifelong disadvantage.

"A lot of brain science data isn't really saying anything all that different than the behavioral and social science data that we've had for 20 to 30 years," Luby said. "But when you can show tangible brain change, it has a different impact on people and a different meaning. It just provides a level of tangible evidence."

That, too, is Pollak's take on the study.

"What this is doing is reframing the problem," he said. "Since President Johnson declared the War on Poverty, Americans have tended to look at poverty as a policy issue. ... But it also looks like it is a biomedical issue."

He likens the potential effect of poverty on children to lead paint - an environmental hazard that damaged children's brains.

"Now we certainly can begin looking at poverty that way, too," he said.

Research shows that early interventions, such as home visitation programs for families and preschool for children, are effective and have the potential to change lives.

That's because the has more "plasticity" early in life - it responds more quickly to changes in environment.

The studies on how poverty affects the development of children's brains are relatively new. Few existed a decade ago. But now more studies exist, and they are getting more attention in policy circles.

They suggest the need to invest in , Wolfe said.

If society doesn't, she said, "they are worse off, and we are all worse off."

Pollak, too, stressed the potential long-term costs.

"Americans tend to really like to believe in this narrative that everyone here has a chance," he said. This kind of research suggests that we have some kids entering kindergarten at totally not a level playing field - with environments that are so impoverished and under-stimulated and nonconducive to healthy growth, we've got little 4-year-olds, 5-year-olds starting kindergarten already at an extreme disadvantage.

"So the data really runs counter to the fact that everyone in this country has a fair shot."