Dr. Michael Omidi discusses new research that highlights the true damage poverty causes a child's brain.
Poverty has been widely associated with lower academic performance for children. The longer a child lives in poverty, often the more they fall behind with an academic deficit. A study published on Monday by JAMA Pediatrics wanted to see if there was a correlation between poverty and lower academic performance because of atypical patterns of structural brain development. The results are startling.
The researchers studied magnetic resonance imaging scans of developing children and adolescents age 4 to 22 years of age. In total, they looked at 829 images. These tests included all socioeconomic data and neuroimaging data. Collection of the data occurred from 2001 to 2007. Recruiting was held at 6 data sites across the U.S. and participants were assessed for any factors that may adversely impact brain development. One quarter of the sample reported to be living 200% under the federal poverty line.
The researchers found that poverty was tied to structural differences in several areas of the brain that account for academic performance. For some, the difference in gray matter in the brain was a difference of 8 to 10%. These differences accounted for the children's academic difficulties.
The researchers concluded that the effect of poverty on learning was mediated by the differences in the structures of the children's brains. They suggested for those living 150% below the federal poverty line, extra resources should be targeted during early childhood to help remediate the early childhood environment. For a family of four, the federal poverty line is earning an income below $24,000.
This research shows that those living in poverty have large gaps to overcome that are structural in the brain. If they aren't given the proper resources, they will most likely have a difficulty advancing academically and into a higher earning career later in life. These children must be targeted to ensure they get additional resources need to advance in life. If not, poverty will continue to be perpetual in nature, and remain an ongoing problem.
Yours in health,
Dr. Michael Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty, a nonprofit that advocates to change poverty in America and around the world.
Dr. Michael Omidi discusses recent PEW research that analyzes the rate of child poverty in America.
According to the PEW Research Center, a total of 20% of children in America were living in poverty in 2013. That is roughly 14.7 million children. This number is down from 16.3 million children in 2010, which represented a rate of 22% of American children. Unfortunately, these numbers are still too high and unevenly distributed between different racial backgrounds.
Asian children had the lowest number who were living in poverty in the US according to the research. They had half a million or so children living in poverty. The data was pulled from US Census' “Income and Poverty in the United States.”
For the first time since the census began, white and black children had near equal numbers of children living in poverty. There are roughly 4.1 million black children living in poverty and 4.3 million white children living in poverty. This comes out to be about 2 out of every 5 black children who are living in poverty.
Out of all demographics living in poverty, children are sadly the highest group living in poverty. This is largely in part because they are unable to fend for themselves, and require care from a parent or guardian. Children are considered to be those 18 years of age and younger.
The population fairing worst is the children in the Hispanic community. In total, 5.3 million Hispanic children were living in poverty in 2013. The Hispanic community has seen a rise in child poverty over the past decade.
It is saddening to see that nearly a quarter of American children have to endure the hardships of poverty. They are helpless and forced to live in less desirable circumstances where some of their basic necessities aren't being met. We must do more as a country for our nation’s children. Through supporting charitable organizations, volunteering and reaching out to your elected officials, you can try to make a greater impact in order to allow these children a brighter future.
Yours in health,
Michael OmidiDr. Michael Omidi is the co-founder of No More Poverty, a nonprofit that advocates for the elimination of poverty throughout the US and around the world.