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Neglected Children are Prone to Having Smaller Brains? Find Out More

study shows that Neglected children are prone to smaller brains

This research was carried out by studying kids who spent their early lives in orphanages, and it was found out that neglected children are prone to smaller brains

A group of researchers from King’s college London took out time to observe kids who spent their childhood at a Romanian orphanages.

When compared with other adoptees, they discovered that those from the orphanages have brains that are 8.6 percent smaller.

The researchers believed that neglect has a way of affecting these kids when they grow up.

The poor state of the orphanages was first observed in 1989 just after the reign of Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian communist.

According to Prof Edmund, the leader of the of the research group studying the children, “I remember TV pictures of those institutions, they were shocking.” He told BBC.

He said the children in the orphanages were being maltreated and he called the institutions “hellholes”.

All the essential things needed by kids were not available in the institutions – no toys to play with, no social contact, and the health care was very poor and disgusting.

Children that have spent between 2 weeks and 4 years in the institutions were used to conduct this research.

neglected children prone to smaller brains
neglected children prone to smaller brains

A research was also conducted on kids who were also adopted, but this time by loving families in the United Kingdom. It was discovered that they still struggled with their mental health in adulthood.

Among things that were observed and documented in the kids include autism, lack of fear for strangers and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Sixty-seven adopted Romanian kids were used for the study and their brain capacity were compared to twenty-one adopted kids who didn’t suffer any form of life deprivation.

“The outcome was quite shocking,” Prof Sonuga-Barke told BBC.

The first observation was the size of the brain. It was found that the Romanian adoptees have a brain that is 8.6 percent smaller on average.

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Also, the more time they spent in the orphanages, the more their brain size got reduced.

However, the result was not uniform among the Romanian children.

Another researcher, Prof Mitul Mehta, was among the researchers that carried out the study. According to Mitul, “we discovered that there are structural differences between the two groups in three regions of the brain.

“These regions are linked to functions such as organization, motivation, integration of information and memory.”

The researchers believe this discovery could play a vital role in explaining why these kids suffer from lower IQ and ADHD in adulthood.

What this study has failed to explain is the link between early life neglect and the effect on the brain.

This implies that it is difficult to fully understand if other early life traumas also have effect on the brain.

However, the research clearly explains that having “smaller brains” goes beyond just poor nutrition.

“The study is important because it highlights for the first time, in a compelling way, the power of the early environment and early adversity to shape brain development. Pro Sonuga-Barke said.

“It drives impairments over this long period of time – over 20 years- even when children have received top-notch care in loving adoptive families.”

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Justin Owena
A passionate writer and a travel enthusiast. I get exhilarated writing from different locations.

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