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Growing up in poverty affects children's development, UEA researchers find

PUBLISHED: 10:39 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:39 02 April 2019

Stocks of food at a foodbank. A study by researchers at the University of East Anglia found that growing up in poverty could affect children's cognitive development. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

Stocks of food at a foodbank. A study by researchers at the University of East Anglia found that growing up in poverty could affect children's cognitive development. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

Living in poverty has an effect on the way children's brains develop, according to Norwich researchers.

A study by the University of East Anglia found that children from lower income backgrounds had weaker brain activity and were more likely to be distracted.

The study focused on the brain function of children in rural India aged between four months and four years old. Factors including parental education, income and the number of children in the family were taken into account.

Lead researcher Prof John Spencer, from UEA’s school of psychology, said children from poorer backgrounds could become “trapped in an intergenerational cycle of poverty”.

“Previous work has shown that poverty and early adversities significantly impact brain development, contributing to a vicious cycle of poverty. But few studies have looked at brain function early in development,” he said.

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