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Study: Poverty Negatively Impacts Structural Wiring in Children’s Brains

A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that growing up in poverty may influence the wiring of a child’s brain.

The study, published June 27 in JAMA Network Open, indicates a link between both neighborhood and household poverty and the brain’s white matter tracts, which allow for communication between brain regions. White matter plays a critical role in helping the brain process information.

The findings stem from the largest long-term study of brain development and child health conducted in the U.S. — the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, which was launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2015. Washington University is a national leader in studies of the developing brain and is one of 21 study sites around the country participating in the ABCD Study, which is following nearly 12,000 children, beginning at ages 9 to 10, for at least a decade.

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