Research Finds Links Between Poverty and Slower Brain Development

drawing-of-the-brainA new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine finds that children raised in poverty tend to have lower rates of development in two key areas of the brain. The study is of particular importance to African Americans as the Black poverty rate is three times the rate for non-Hispanic White Americans.

The study found that at age 4, children in families with incomes under 200 percent of the poverty level tended to have less gray matter than children growing up in families with higher incomes. Gray matter is brain tissue critical for processing information.

The study eliminated children from the study whose mother’s smoked or drank alcohol during pregnancy, had birth complications, and children who had head injuries.

The authors stated that there may be many factors that lead to lower levels of brain development including poor nutrition, environmental factors in the home, lack of books and other educational toys, parental stress, and limited enriching conversation.

The article, “Family Poverty Affects the Rate of Human Infant Brain Growth,” was published on the website of PLOS ONE. It may be read here.


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