Tag Archives: Is it genetic code or postal code that influence a child’s life chances?

Columbia University study: Is it genetic code or postal code that influence a child’s life chances?

11 Apr

For a really good discussion of the effects of poverty on children, read the American Psychological Association (APA), Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth:

What are the effects of child poverty?
• Psychological research has demonstrated that living in poverty has a wide range of negative effects on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of our nation’s children.
• Poverty impacts children within their various contexts at home, in school, and in their neighborhoods and communities.
• Poverty is linked with negative conditions such as substandard housing, homelessness, inadequate nutrition and food insecurity, inadequate child care, lack of access to health care, unsafe neighborhoods, and underresourced schools which adversely impact our nation’s children.
• Poorer children and teens are also at greater risk for several negative outcomes such as poor academic achievement, school dropout, abuse and neglect, behavioral and socioemotional problems, physical health problems, and developmental delays.
• These effects are compounded by the barriers children and their families encounter when trying to access physical and mental health care.
• Economists estimate that child poverty costs the U.S. $500 billion a year in lost productivity in the work force and spending on health care and the criminal justice system.
Poverty and academic achievement
• Poverty has a particularly adverse effect on the academic outcomes of children, especially during early childhood.
• Chronic stress associated with living in poverty has been shown to adversely affect children’s concentration and memory which may impact their ability to learn.
• School drop out rates are significantly higher for teens residing in poorer communities. In 2007, the dropout rate of students living in low-income families was about 10 times greater than the rate of their peers from high-income families (8.8% vs. 0.9%).
• The academic achievement gap for poorer youth is particularly pronounced for low-income African American and Hispanic children compared with their more affluent White peers.
• Underresourced schools in poorer communities struggle to meet the learning needs of their students and aid them in fulfilling their potential.
• Inadequate education contributes to the cycle of poverty by making it more difficult for low-income children to lift themselves and future generations out of poverty. http://www.apa.org/pi/families/poverty.aspx

See, While Black folk are immobilized and stuck on Ferguson, Asian ‘star’ tutors advance Asian achievement https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/tag/poverty-and-education/

Science Daily reported in Is it genetic code or postal code that influence a child’s life chances?

Most children inherit both their postal code and their genetic code from their parents. But if genetic factors influence where families are able to live and children’s health and educational success, improving neighborhoods may not be enough. Latest research at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and University of California at Irvine, provides new insights into the highly debated question of whether the neighborhoods that children live in influence their health and life chances.
This is the first study to bring together genetic and geographic data to test links between children’s neighborhood and genetic risk. The findings are published online in Nature Human Behavior.
The research team led by Dan Belsky, PhD assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School, and Candice Odgers at the University of California, Irvine Department of Psychological Science, linked the genomic, geographic, health, and educational data of thousands of children living in Britain and Wales. They found that children growing up in worse-off neighborhoods also carried higher genetic risk for poor educational outcomes and earlier childbearing. The authors replicated their findings in the U.S.-based Add Health Study, where they found that gene-neighborhood correlations may accumulate across generations as young people with higher genetic risk for poor educational attainment and younger age at first birth were both born into, and subsequently moved into, worse-off neighborhoods.
“But genetic risk alone was not enough to explain why children from poorer versus more affluent neighborhoods received less education and were more likely to be Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) by late adolescence,” said Belsky, who is also with the Columbia Aging Center. “The data on education could explain only a fraction (10-15 percent) of the link between neighborhood risk and poor educational qualifications and NEET status, suggesting that there is ample opportunity for neighborhoods to influence these outcomes.”
“Surprisingly, for obesity, one of the most prevalent and costly health problems facing this generation, we found no link between neighborhood and genetic risk,” observed Odgers. “Children who grew up in worse-off neighborhoods were more likely to become obese by age 18, but they did not carry a higher genetic risk for obesity than their peers living in more advantaged neighborhoods.”
Similarly, for mental health problems, children in worse-off neighborhoods experienced more symptoms of mental disorder, but there was little evidence that the reason for this link was due to genetic risk. For physical and mental health problems, postal code and genetic code both predicted children’s futures.
Analyses were based on data from The Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, which has followed 2232 twins born in England and Wales in 1994-1995 into young adulthood, and The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which followed 15,000 American secondary school students into adulthood. For “polygenic scoring” the investigators combined information across the genome based on recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of obesity, of schizophrenia, of age-at-first-birth, and of educational attainment. Neighborhood risk assessment and Neighborhood Mobility Analysis tools are described in the paper’s Supporting Details…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190408114330.htm

Citation:

Is it genetic code or postal code that influence a child’s life chances?
Study provides insights on children’s physical and mental health risk outcomes; genetics are a small piece of the puzzle
Date: April 8, 2019
Source: Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health
Summary:
Most children inherit both their postal code and their genetic code from their parents. But if genetic factors influence where families are able to live and children’s health and educational success, improving neighborhoods may not be enough. Latest research provides new insights into the highly debated question of whether the neighborhoods that children live in influence their health and life chances.

Journal Reference:
Daniel W. Belsky, Avshalom Caspi, Louise Arseneault, David L. Corcoran, Benjamin W. Domingue, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Renate M. Houts, Jonathan S. Mill, Terrie E. Moffitt, Joseph Prinz, Karen Sugden, Jasmin Wertz, Benjamin Williams & Candice L. Odgers. Genetics and the geography of health, behaviour and attainment. Nature Human Behavior, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41562-019-0562-1

Here is the press release from Columbia University:

CHILD AND ADOLESCENT HEALTH, GENETICS

Apr. 08 2019

Is It Genetic Code or Postal Code That Matters More for a Child’s Life Chances?
STUDY PROVIDES INSIGHTS ON CHILDREN’S PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH RISK OUTCOMES; GENETICS ARE A SMALL PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
Children in worse-off neighborhoods often leave school early and live shorter lives. Improving neighborhood conditions has been proposed as way of improving health and opportunities for millions of children. But if genetic factors influence both where families are able to live and their children’s health and educational success, improving neighborhoods may not be enough. New research from scientists at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and the University of California at Irvine provides new insights into the highly debated question of whether the neighborhoods that children live in influence their health and life chances.

The study is the first to bring together genetic and geographic data to test links between children’s neighborhood and genetic risk. The findings are published online in Nature Human Behaviour.

The research team led by Daniel Belsky, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia Mailman School, and Candice Odgers, PhD, at the University of California, Irvine, Department of Psychological Science, linked the genomic, geographic, health, and educational data of thousands of children living in Britain and Wales. They found that children growing up in worse-off neighborhoods also carried a higher genetic risk for poor educational outcomes and earlier childbearing, as determined by genome-wide association studies known as polygenic scoring. The authors replicated their findings in the U.S.-based Add Health Study, where they found that gene-neighborhood correlations may accumulate across generations as young people with a higher genetic risk for poor educational attainment and women who gave birth a younger ages were both born into, and subsequently moved into, worse-off neighborhoods.

“We found genetic risk alone was not enough to explain why children from poorer versus more affluent neighborhoods received less education by late adolescence,” said Belsky, who is also with the Columbia Aging Center. “The data on education could explain only a fraction of the link between neighborhood risk and poor educational qualifications, suggesting that there is ample opportunity for neighborhoods to influence these outcomes.”

“Surprisingly, for obesity, one of the most prevalent and costly health problems facing this generation, we found no link between neighborhood and genetic risk,” observed Odgers. “Children who grew up in worse-off neighborhoods were more likely to become obese by age 18, but they did not carry a higher genetic risk for obesity than their peers living in more advantaged neighborhoods.”

Similarly, for mental health problems, children in worse-off neighborhoods experienced more symptoms of mental disorder, but there was little evidence that the reason for this link was due to genetic risk. For physical and mental health problems, postal code and genetic code both predicted children’s futures.

Analyses were based on data from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, which has followed 2,232 twins born in England and Wales in 1994-1995 into young adulthood, and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, which followed 15,000 American secondary school students into adulthood. Genetic risk was measured by polygenic scoring, combining information from recent genome-wide association studies of obesity, of schizophrenia, of age-at-first-birth, and of educational attainment. Neighborhood characteristics and mobility were derived from government data, surveys of residents, and virtual assessment method employing Google Street View.

Odgers, who developed the neighborhood virtual assessments noted that “advances in both genomics and geospatial analyses are rapidly positioning us to make new discoveries. In this case, they allowed us to identify outcomes, like obesity and mental health, where neighborhoods are most likely to have unique impacts.” But, she added, “This is only a first step in answering the really important question of whether changing neighborhoods can improve children’s lives.”
“In our study, polygenic risk scores showed a link between genetics and neighborhoods for teen pregnancy and poor educational outcomes,” said Belsky. “This finding suggests that we should consider neighborhoods when interpreting the results of studies searching for genes related to these outcomes, and also that we should consider genes when examining the effects of neighborhoods.” But, he cautioned that “polygenic risk scores are an evolving and still imperfect tool. They can help us test whether genes and neighborhoods are related. But they cannot tell us how.”

Genetic risk accounted for only a fraction of the differences between children living in different types of neighborhoods. According to Belsky and Odgers this provides some reason to hope that “targeting neighborhoods”—especially for physical and mental health—will be enough to improve children’s life outcomes.

Co-authors’ institutions are Duke University; Stanford University; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Kings College, UK; and University of Exeter, UK.

The study was supported by the Medical Research Council (UKMRC G1002190), NICHD (HD077482), Google, and the Jacobs Foundation. The Add Health Study was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD31921, HD073342, HD060726), with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations.

People tend to cluster in neighborhoods based upon class as much as race. Good teachers tend to gravitate toward neighborhoods where they are paid well and students come from families who mirror their personal backgrounds and values. Good teachers make a difference in a child’s life. One of the difficulties in busing to achieve equity in education is that neighborhoods tend to be segregated by class as well as race. People often make sacrifices to move into neighborhoods they perceive mirror their values. That is why there must be good schools in all segments of the country and there must be good schools in all parts of this society. A good education should not depend upon one’s class or status.

The lawyers in Brown were told that lawsuits were futile and that the legislatures would address the issue of segregation eventually when the public was ready. Meanwhile, several generations of African Americans waited for people to come around and say the Constitution applied to us as well. Generations of African Americans suffered in inferior schools. This society cannot sacrifice the lives of children by not addressing the issue of equity in school funding in a timely manner.
The next huge case, like Brown, will be about equity in education funding. It may not come this year or the next year. It, like Brown, may come several years after a Plessy. It will come. Equity in education funding is the civil rights issue of this century.

Related:

Michael Petrilli’s decision: An ed reformer confronts race and class when choosing a school for his kids
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/11/micheal-pettrillis-decision-an-ed-reformer-confronts-race-and-class-when-choosing-a-school-for-his-kids/

The role economic class plays in college success
https://drwilda.com/2012/12/22/the-role-economic-class-plays-in-college-success/

The ‘school-to-prison pipeline
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/27/the-school-to-prison-pipeline/

Trying not to raise a bumper crop of morons: Hong Kong’s ‘tutor kings and queens’
https://drwilda.com/2012/11/26/trying-not-to-raise-a-bumper-crop-of-morons-hong-kongs-tutor-kings-and-queens/

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