BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Although we probably don’t make connections between social and financial status and brain health issues, scientists believe poverty may lead to neurological problems.
Yes, poverty could be linked to health issues, but we mostly imagine this issues being of physical nature, as people who are poor may not live in the same conditions regarding hygiene, for example. Or, some of them may be exposed to different viruses or very low temperatures which will enhance their chances of catching a cold. But how could poverty be related to neurological issues?
The problem is more common in children and according to research environments with low incomes could ease the development of childhood neurological impairment. Although there have already been some discussions regarding cognitive and emotional delays that may occur because of early-life poverty, this neurological impairment refers to something different.
Although the impairment might not be visible for any observer, it could increase difficulties in learning, or attention deficit disorders. Some of the more negative outcomes could be anxiety disorders and even schizophrenia.
The findings come after analyzing data of more than 36,000 participants. The data was collected between 1959 and 1974 to study neurological problems in children before birth and at different times in early childhood: 4 months, 1 and 7 years respectively.
Data was judged based on the socioeconomic status of the parents, education, employment and household. Although until 4 months old, there were no differences between infants coming from different socioeconomic classes, starting that age, the children coming from poorer families were almost 13 percent more likely to develop a neurological abnormality.
The chances of developing neurological abnormalities grew with age and by the time they were 7 years old, the children had a 20 percent risk of having neurological problems.
The numbers are quite worrying and given the fact that the study was based on data from the 50s and until the 70s, things might have become even worse in present times. If a study were to be made on children today, the findings would probably be even more concerning as the number of kids living in poverty has increased and their fetal stage development should also be considered, especially when the mother uses drugs or alcohol, as these will most definitely affect the child’s neurological system.
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