-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Persistent poverty harms
the cognitive development of children, but family instability has
no effect, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed data collected from almost 19,000 British
children and their families when the children were 9 months, 3
years and 5 years old. The data provided insight into family
poverty, family transitions, family demographics and housing
Most of the families (62.1 percent) were not poor at any of the
three assessment points, but 13 percent did experience persistent
poverty. Most parents (56.6 percent) were in a stable marriage,
12.7 percent were continuously cohabitating with the same partner,
and 7.8 percent were continuously single.
The study found that children in stable two-parent families
showed higher cognitive abilities than those in one-parent families
or those who experienced a change in living arrangements.
They also found that children growing up in persistent poverty
scored lower on cognitive tests than those who had never
After they accounted for a number of factors, the researchers
concluded there was no link between family structure/instability
and a child's cognitive ability, but persistent poverty did have a
strong and significant negative effect on a child's cognitive
functioning at 5 years of age.
The study appeared online April 20 in the
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The researchers were from the Institute of Education at the University of London and the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London.
The Nemours Foundation has more about
growth and development.
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