Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Early life emotional trauma may stunt intellectual development

Date:
April 2, 2012
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Early life emotional trauma may stunt intellectual development, indicates the first long term study of its kind. The impact seems to be most damaging during first two years of life.

Early life emotional trauma may stunt intellectual development, indicates the first long term study of its kind, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The impact seems to be the most damaging during the first two years of a child's life, the findings suggest.

The US researchers tracked the development of 206 children from birth to the age of eight years, who were taking part in the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. This study, which started in 1975, looks at which factors influence individual development.

Every few months they assessed the participating families, using a mix of observing mother-child interactions at home and in the laboratory, interviews with the mother, and reviews of medical and child protection records.

From these data, they rated whether a child was abused physically, sexually or emotionally; endured neglect; or witnessed partner violence against his/her mother at specific time points up to the age of 5+ years.

The children's intellectual development was then assessed using validated scales at the ages of two years, 5+ years, and 8 years, and exposure to maltreatment or violence was categorised according to whether these occurred during infancy (0-24 months) or pre-school (24-64 months).

Around one in three of the children (36.5%) had been maltreated and/or witnessed violence against his/her mother by age 5+.

In just under one in 20 (4.8%) this occurred in infancy; in 13% this was during the pre-school period; and in around one in five (18.7%) this occurred during both periods.

Analysis of the data showed that children who had been exposed to maltreatment and/or violence against the mother had lower scores on the cognitive measures at all time points.

The results held true even after taking account of factors likely to influence IQ development, such as social and economic factors, mother's IQ, weight at birth, birth complications, quality of intellectual stimulation at home, and gender.

The effects were most noticeable for those children who had experienced this type of trauma during the first two years of their lives, the findings showed.

Their scores were an average of 7.25 points lower than those of children without early exposure, even after accounting for other risk factors.

"The results suggest that [maltreatment and witnessing domestic violence] in early childhood, particularly during the first two years, has significant and enduring effects on cognitive development, even after adjusting for [other risk factors]," write the authors.

They go on to say that their findings echo those of other researchers who have identified changes in brain circuitry and structure associated with trauma and adversity in early life.

The early years of a child's life are when the brain is developing most rapidly, they say, adding, "Because early brain organisation frames later neurological development, changes in early development may have lifelong consequences."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. B. Enlow, B. Egeland, E. A. Blood, R. O. Wright, R. J. Wright. Interpersonal trauma exposure and cognitive development in children to age 8 years: a longitudinal study. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 2012; DOI: 10.1136/jech-2011-200727

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Early life emotional trauma may stunt intellectual development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402222022.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2012, April 2). Early life emotional trauma may stunt intellectual development. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402222022.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Early life emotional trauma may stunt intellectual development." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120402222022.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins