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Shrinks brains from birth
11.04.2015. Studies show that children from low-income families have smaller brains and lower cognitive abilities. Thus writes Sara Reardon in her article Poverty shrinks brains from birth, concluding as follows:
Neither study explains the cause of the cognitive differences. Although the authors of both studies admit that genetic factors could be involved, they suspect that environmental exposures such as stress and nutrition are more important and begin even before the babies are born.
"It does make us think the focus should be redirected at gestation and stresses like nutrition and exposure to toxins," says Hallam Hurt, a neonatologist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia who led the infant research study.
Older children may be affected in different ways. For instance, poorer parents who work multiple jobs to make ends meet may have less time to spend with their children, and less money to buy toys to stimulate their children's minds as they grow, says Laura Betancourt, a paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who authored the infant study.
And Hanson suggests that epigenetics — modifications to DNA caused by environmental factors such as stress — could also be playing an important role, and can be passed down through generations.
Still, the researchers are hopeful that the impacts could be reversible through interventions such as providing better child care and nutrition. Research in humans and in other animals suggests that is the case: a study in Mexico, for instance, showed that supplementing poor families' income improved their children's cognitive and language skills within 18 months.
“It’s important for the message not to be that if you're poor your brain is smaller and will be smaller forever,” Sowell says.
Read the entire article in Nature.
Adressing the 'cultural' problem among some Asian Muslim men
08.04.2015. Sajid Javid, the culture secretary, says Muslim communities in parts of Britain have a 'cultural' problem that allows women to be viewed as commodities. Continue reading in The Telegraph.
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