Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cost of resiliency in kids uncovered

Date:
May 30, 2013
Source:
University of Georgia
Summary:
Children living in poverty who appear to succeed socially may be failing biologically. Students able to overcome the stress of growing up poor are labeled "resilient" because of their ability to overcome adversity, but researchers found this resiliency has health costs that last well into adulthood.

Children living in poverty who appear to succeed socially may be failing biologically. Students able to overcome the stress of growing up poor are labeled "resilient" because of their ability to overcome adversity, but University of Georgia researchers found this resiliency has health costs that last well into adulthood.

"Exposure to stress over time gets under the skin of children and adolescents, which makes them more vulnerable to disease later in life," said Gene Brody, founder and director of the UGA Center for Family Research.

Looking at a sample of 489 African-American youths from working poor families in south Georgia, Brody evaluated the overall poverty-related risks experienced by children annually at ages 11 to 13 as well as teacher-reported competence. Allostatic load, a measure of wear and tear on the body, was taken for each child at age 19. Allostatic load is a measure of stress hormones, blood pressure and body mass index.

The results, which were published May 30 in the journal Psychological Science, found kids 11 to 13 who experienced high levels of stress and whose teachers evaluated them as performing well emotionally, academically and socially had a high allostatic load at age 19.

"The children who are doing good at school, playing well with friends, have high self-esteem and don't have behavior problems are often thought of as beating the odds or being resilient in the face of adversity," said Brody. "We hypothesized maybe at one level they are resilient, but looking at their biology and asking what is the cost, we find a physiologic toll to attaining behavior resilience."

The body adapts to stressful situations through the activation of neural mechanisms, including the release of stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, which have both protective and damaging effects on the body. Short-term, these hormones are important for adapting to stress, particularly stress associated with financial hardship. When used frequently over time, stress hormones can compromise immune system functions and other bodily systems, potentially speeding up disease processes-meaning that they can end up with chronic diseases at a much younger age.

"We used to assume that cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer just happen to people as they get older," Brody said. "But, we see the success-oriented, highly active coping style these youth employed in the presence of high risk is associated with cumulative wear and tear on their bodies that increases the risk for these young adults for the chronic diseases of aging."

The findings support the suggestion that poor health and health disparities during adulthood are tied to earlier experiences. Youths who don't cope as well, have low self-esteem and struggle in school and with friends show elevated levels of stress hormones, blood pressure and body mass index, or BMI, as well.

About 10 percent of the population surveyed in Brody's research fell into this category. These health markers are risk factors for early onset diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension and cancer.

"For kids who are doing well and have outwardly beaten the odds, it is very important for them to be monitored and have yearly checkups so that if they have elevations in these risk factors they can be attended to," he said.

Consistent with the research at the Center for Family Research, Brody is now researching the impact of prevention programs on at-risk youth. Tianyi Yu, Edith Chen, Gregory Miller, Steven Kogan and Steven Beach co-authored this paper.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Georgia. The original article was written by April Reese Sorrow. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gene H. Brody, Tianyi Yu, Edith Chen, Gregory E. Miller, Steven M. Kogan, Steven R. H. Beach. Is Resilience Only Skin Deep? Rural African Americans’ Socioeconomic Status–Related Risk and Competence in Preadolescence and Psychological Adjustment and Allostatic Load at Age 19. Psychological Science, 2013 DOI: 10.1177/0956797612471954

Cite This Page:

University of Georgia. "Cost of resiliency in kids uncovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530132439.htm>.
University of Georgia. (2013, May 30). Cost of resiliency in kids uncovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530132439.htm
University of Georgia. "Cost of resiliency in kids uncovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130530132439.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
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