Reading Could Help Counteract Poor Brain Development Linked To Poverty

Kids aren’t given the same opportunities in life. Even kids who grow up in the same country and in the same town may have significantly different opportunities from the moment they’re born.

One thing that can greatly impact a child’s health and wellbeing is socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, kids who grow up in lower-income households have worse development and outcomes.

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According to the University of Wisconsin, “Recent studies analyzing the MRI brain scans over the course of children’s lives have shown that children from poor and near-poor households have significantly lower average overall frontal and parietal lobe volumes of gray matter than children from wealthier families.”

Thankfully, there is a possible way to help close the gap: with reading.

Photo: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

In an article shared by the Hindu Times, Parmita Uniyal said: “Our observational study shows a dramatic and positive link between a fun and simple activity – reading for pleasure in early childhood – and better cognition, mental health and educational attainment in adolescence.”

They went on to say, “We analysed the data from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) project, a US national cohort study with more than 10,000 participants across different ethnicities and and varying socioeconomic status. The dataset contained measures of young adolescents ages nine to 13 and how many years they had spent reading for pleasure during their early childhood. It also included data on their cognitive, mental health and brain health.”

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The results found that “reading for pleasure in early childhood was linked with better scores on comprehensive cognition assessments and better educational attainment in young adolescence. It was also associated with fewer mental health problems and less time spent on electronic devices.”

Reading is something that even people in low-income households can enjoy! Many libraries offer free physical books and online resources for people to access. In addition, there are programs like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library that partners with local sponsors around the country to provide free books for kids under 5.

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