Growing up poor can be a scar that never heals in many ways. Now a University of Wisconsin-Madison study shows one reason why: Poverty has physical manifestations in brain development.
Neuroscientists and economists worked on the study, which showed that children who grew up poor had brains 8 percent to 10 percent smaller in the parts tied to academic performance.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that nearly 400 young people were studied with MRI scans. Previous research has shown links between poverty and parts of the brain that affect behavior.
That America has a poverty problem is no secret. In North Carolina, a report last year from the Annie E. Casey Foundation found 26 percent of the state’s children in poverty in 2012. The state’s rankings on education weren’t very good, and there was a large percentage of single-parent homes.
Clearly, both the state and leaders on the national level need to address the issue of child poverty, for a host of reasons: The link to brain development is important. Children who fail to develop the skills necessary for a chance at success in life are themselves likely to have children in circumstances, and with problems, similar to their own. In essence, a failure to address the issue will only make it worse by putting more children in poverty in the future.