Tag Archives: Resilance

University of Washington study: Early-life challenges affect how children focus, face the day

9 Jun

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/
Moi blogs about education issues so the reader could be perplexed sometimes because moi often writes about other things like nutrition, families, and personal responsibility issues. Why? The reader might ask? Children will have the most success in school if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of society’s problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family. See Dr. Wilda on poverty https://drwilda.com/tag/poverty/ and https://drwilda.com/tag/poverty/page/2/
Science Daily reported in Poverty leaves a mark on our genes:
A new Northwestern University study challenges prevailing understandings of genes as immutable features of biology that are fixed at conception.
Previous research has shown that socioeconomic status (SES) is a powerful determinant of human health and disease, and social inequality is a ubiquitous stressor for human populations globally. Lower educational attainment and/or income predict increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, many cancers and infectious diseases, for example. Furthermore, lower SES is associated with physiological processes that contribute to the development of disease, including chronic inflammation, insulin resistance and cortisol dysregulation….
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190404135433.htm

Citation:

Poverty leaves a mark on our genes
Study’s findings challenge understandings of genes as fixed features of our biology
Date: April 4, 2019
Source: Northwestern University
Summary:
In this study, researchers found evidence that poverty can become embedded across wide swaths of the genome. They discovered that lower socioeconomic status is associated with levels of DNA methylation (DNAm) — a key epigenetic mark that has the potential to shape gene expression — at more than 2,500 sites, across more than 1,500 genes.

Journal Reference:
Thomas W. McDade, Calen P. Ryan, Meaghan J. Jones, Morgan K. Hoke, Judith Borja, Gregory E. Miller, Christopher W. Kuzawa, Michael S. Kobor. Genome‐wide analysis of DNA methylation in relation to socioeconomic status during development and early adulthood. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 2019; 169 (1): 3 DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.23800

A University of Washington study reported about the effects of early life challenges.

Science Daily reported in Early-life challenges affect how children focus, face the day:

Adversity early in life tends to affect a child’s executive function skills — their ability to focus, for example, or organize tasks.

Experiences such as poverty, residential instability, or parental divorce or substance abuse, also can lead to changes in a child’s brain chemistry, muting the effects of stress hormones. These hormones rise to help us face challenges, stress or to simply “get up and go.”
Together, these impacts to executive function and stress hormones create a snowball effect, adding to social and emotional challenges that can continue through childhood. A new University of Washington study examines how adversity can change the ways children develop.
“This study shows how adversity is affecting multiple systems inside a child,” said the study’s lead author, Liliana Lengua, a UW professor of psychology and director of the Center for Child and Family Well-Being. “The disruption of multiple systems of self-control, both intentional planning efforts and automatic stress-hormone responses, sets off a cascade of neurobiological effects that starts early and continues through childhood.”
The study, published May 10 in Development and Psychopathology, evaluated 306 children at intervals over more than two years, starting when participants were around 3 years old, up to age 5 ½. Children were from a range of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, with 57% considered lower income or near poverty.
Income was a key marker for adversity. In addition, the children’s mothers were surveyed about other risk factors that have been linked to poor health and behavior outcomes in children, including family transitions, residential instability, and negative life events such as abuse or the incarceration of a parent.
Against these data, Lengua’s team tested children’s executive function skills with a series of activities, and, through saliva samples, a stress-response hormone called diurnal cortisol.
The hormone that “helps us rise to a challenge,” Lengua said, cortisol tends to follow a daily, or diurnal, pattern: It increases early in the morning, helping us to wake up. It is highest in the morning — think of it as the energy to face the day — and then starts to fall throughout the day. But the pattern is different among children and adults who face constant stress, Lengua said.
“What we see in individuals experiencing chronic adversity is that their morning levels are quite low and flat through the day, every day. When someone is faced with high levels of stress all the time, the cortisol response becomes immune, and the system stops responding. That means they’re not having the cortisol levels they need to be alert and awake and emotionally ready to meet the challenges of the day,” she said…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190605171354.htm

Citation:

Early-life challenges affect how children focus, face the day
Date: June 5, 2019
Source: University of Washington
Summary:
Experiences such as poverty, residential instability, or parental divorce or substance abuse, can affect executive function and lead to changes in a child’s brain chemistry, muting the effects of stress hormones, according to a new study.
ournal Reference:
Liliana J. Lengua, Stephanie F. Thompson, Lyndsey R. Moran, Maureen Zalewski, Erika J. Ruberry, Melanie R. Klein, Cara J. Kiff. Pathways from early adversity to later adjustment: Tests of the additive and bidirectional effects of executive control and diurnal cortisol in early childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 2019; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0954579419000373

Here is the press release from the University of Washington:

June 4, 2019
How early-life challenges affect how children focus, face the day
Kim Eckart
UW News
Adversity early in life tends to affect a child’s executive function skills — their ability to focus, for example, or organize tasks.
Experiences such as poverty, residential instability, or parental divorce or substance abuse, also can lead to changes in a child’s brain chemistry, muting the effects of stress hormones. These hormones rise to help us face challenges, stress or to simply “get up and go.”
Together, these impacts to executive function and stress hormones create a snowball effect, adding to social and emotional challenges that can continue through childhood. A new University of Washington study examines how adversity can change the ways children develop.
“This study shows how adversity is affecting multiple systems inside a child,” said the study’s lead author, Liliana Lengua, a UW professor of psychology and director of the Center for Child and Family Well-Being. “The disruption of multiple systems of self-control, both intentional planning efforts and automatic stress-hormone responses, sets off a cascade of neurobiological effects that starts early and continues through childhood.”
The study, published May 10 in Development and Psychopathology, evaluated 306 children at intervals over more than two years, starting when participants were around 3 years old, up to age 5 ½. Children were from a range of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, with 57% considered lower income or near poverty.
Income was a key marker for adversity. In addition, the children’s mothers were surveyed about other risk factors that have been linked to poor health and behavior outcomes in children, including family transitions, residential instability, and negative life events such as abuse or the incarceration of a parent.
Against these data, Lengua’s team tested children’s executive function skills with a series of activities, and, through saliva samples, a stress-response hormone called diurnal cortisol.
The hormone that “helps us rise to a challenge,” Lengua said, cortisol tends to follow a daily, or diurnal, pattern: It increases early in the morning, helping us to wake up. It is highest in the morning — think of it as the energy to face the day — and then starts to fall throughout the day. But the pattern is different among children and adults who face constant stress, Lengua said.
“What we see in individuals experiencing chronic adversity is that their morning levels are quite low and flat through the day, every day. When someone is faced with high levels of stress all the time, the cortisol response becomes immune, and the system stops responding. That means they’re not having the cortisol levels they need to be alert and awake and emotionally ready to meet the challenges of the day,” she said.
To assess executive function, researchers chose preschool-friendly activities that measured each child’s ability to follow directions, pay attention and take actions contrary to impulse. For instance, in a game called “Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders,” children are told to do the opposite of what a researcher tells them to do — if the researcher says, “touch your head,” the child is supposed to touch their toes. In another activity, children interact with two puppets — a monkey and a dragon — but are supposed to follow only the instructions given by the monkey.
When children are better at following instructions in these and similar activities, they tend to have better social skills and manage their emotions when stressed. Children who did well on these tasks also tended to have more typical patterns of diurnal cortisol.
But children who were in families that had lower income and higher adversity tended to have both lower executive function and an atypical diurnal cortisol pattern. Each of those contributed to more behavior problems and lower social-emotional competence in children when they were about to start kindergarten.
The study shows that not only do low income and adversity affect children’s adjustment, but they also impact these self-regulation systems that then add to children’s adjustment problems. “Taken all together, it’s like a snowball effect, with adverse effects adding together,” Lengua said.
While past research has pointed to the effects of adversity on executive function, and to the specific relationship between cortisol and executive function, this new study shows the additive effects over time, Lengua said.
“Executive function is an indicator that shows the functioning of cognitive regulation. Cortisol is the neuroendocrine response, an automatic response, and the two consistently emerge as being related to each other and impacting behavior in children,” she said.
The research could be used to inform parenting programs, early childhood and school-based interventions, Lengua said. Safe, stable environments and communities, and positive, nurturing parenting practices support child development, while a focus on relationships and healthy behaviors in preschool settings can support children of all backgrounds — those with high as well as low adversity.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Co-authors were Stephanie Thompson, Erika Ruberry and Melanie Klein of the UW Department of Psychology; Lyndsey Moran of the Boston Child Study Center; Maureen Zalewski of the University of Oregon; and Cara Kiff of UCLA.
###
For more information, contact Lengua at Liliana@uw.edu.

The is no magic bullet or “Holy Grail” in education, there is what works to produce academic achievement in each population of students.
What moi observes from Asian culture is that success does not occur in a vacuum and that students from all walks of life can benefit from the individual intervention to prevent failure. The question must be asked, who is responsible for MY or YOUR life choices? Let’s get real, certain Asian cultures kick the collective butts of the rest of Americans. Why? It’s not rocket science. These cultures embrace success traits of hard work, respect for education, strong families, and a reverence for success and successful people. Contrast the culture of success with the norms of hip-hop and rap oppositional culture.
See, Hip-hop’s Dangerous Values
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1107107/posts and Hip-Hop and rap represent destructive life choices: How low can this genre sink? https://drwilda.com/2013/05/01/hip-hop-and-rap-represent-destructive-life-choices-how-low-can-this-genre-sink/

Resources:

Culture of Success http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/culture-success
How Do Asian Students Get to the Top of the Class?
http://www.greatschools.org/parenting/teaching-values/481-parenting-students-to-the-top.gs

Related:

Is there a model minority?
https://drwilda.com/2012/06/23/is-there-a-model-minority/

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