More than 14.5 million children—just under 1 in 5—were in poverty in the United States in 2013.
Living in poverty can put children at risk for health and behavioral problems, but could disadvantage actually affect brain development? Emerging evidence suggests that living in poverty may indeed alter how the brain grows, which may have implications for a child’s life chances through adulthood.
“Poverty seems to be putting children’s brains on a different trajectory of development,” says UW-Madison professor Seth Pollak. “It’s slowing the development of the brains of infants living in poverty.”
So what’s causing these developmental blocks and how can they be countered?
“Brain Drain: A Child’s Brain on Poverty” released in March 2015, was prepared by intern Neil Damron with extensive content review from the Institute for Research on Poverty. For a full list of sources and further reading, please refer to the final page of the fact sheet.