Kid's brains can be protected from the effects of poverty

Harold Mandel's picture
Poverty

A prevention program has been found to safeguard kid's brains from damaging effects of poverty.

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Poverty is a killer that has the potential to steal all human potential. Researchers believe they have identified a program which can protect the brains of kids from the horrible effects of poverty.

The Strong African American Families Program (SAAF) takes away the effects which poverty has on the development of the brain

Researchers from the University of Georgia have reported that they have observed that taking part in a prevention program which is known as the Strong African American Families Program (SAAF) takes away the effects which poverty has on the development of the brain. This program nurtures supportive parenting and helps to strengthen family relationships.

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Gene H. Brody, who was the study’s lead author and co-director of the UGA Center for Family Research, and his colleagues examined the brains of 59 adults who took part in SAAF between the ages of 11 and 57 and compared them to 57 adults from nearly the same backgrounds who did not take part in SAAF. MRI scans were used to examine the brains.

The brain can be seen as if it is a muscle that should be strengthened

It was observed that those who took part in SAAF, all of whom are now 25 years old, had better volumes in regions of the brain which are involved in promoting learning, memory and tolerance to stress. Brody says the brain can be seen as if it is a muscle that should be strengthened throughout childhood and adolescence. People generally do a lot better in life when that muscle is given good levels of stimulation and protections from stress that a nurturing caregiver provides.

This study has been published in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers have found that participation in the Strong African American Families program was associated with reductions in risk from poverty and decreased brain development. The findings in this study are consistent with a possible role for supportive parenting to deal with the potential ravages of poverty and suggest a possible strategy for decreasing social disparities. Strong support from good caring families can go a long way to help kids develop well even when they are poor.

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