Poverty and Its Impact on the Brain

We recognize from research like the Adverse Child Events Studies (ACES) that difficult events in the lives of children can have life-long impact in their lives and their brains. Well into adult years, these impacts appear as personal struggles, disease, relational issues and so much more.  One particular adverse event in a child’s life is to grow up living in poverty. How does this affect not only the child’s life but his or her young brain?

A Child’s Brain development in poverty conditions

Poverty impacts a child's brain
For a growing child, deprivation and stress can become a kind of neurotoxin. (New Yorker Magazine, source below)

I think when we attempt to help so many children in our country who live in poverty, we tend to underestimate how the conditions surrounding their lives can be detrimental to their brain development. Poverty can cause many difficult struggles which may be hidden with merely a cursory look at their lives.

I am providing to you this link to a very important article written by Madeline Ostrander in the New Yorker magazine on the topic of poverty and it impact on the young brain.  It is quite compelling.

It is also compelling to me to see the broad range of brain issues that can be correlated to poverty.  It seems to mimic drug use and has major impact to the physical growth and the mental capacity of a child. Particularly when dealing with high poverty communities, it is important for those who run and staff our systems to be aware of what may really be happening in the lives of our children and teenagers.

I think this research is helpful in understanding their brain development and how poverty may impact their capacity to learn and grow.

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network


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