According to a new study, a loving family increases a child’s intelligence and mental abilities.
Researchers from Harvard University and Boston Children’s Hospital have discovered that children who spend time in foster care have less white and grey matter, the two components of the central nervous system, than children who are raised in a normal home environment.
White matter sends messages in the brain and grey matter contains nerve cells that control muscles, memory, emotion, and speech. According to the study, children in foster care have normal amounts of white matter but smaller amounts of grey matter.
Researchers believe the differing levels of white and grey matter for children in foster homes is caused by varying levels of stimulation required for normal brain development.
Statistically, children who grow up in foster care are more likely to develop issues like ADHD and mental health problems. Children in foster homes also, on average, have lower IQs and language skills than children who grew up in a stable home environment.
But foster care does not necessarily have a negative impact on a child’s intellectual development. Dr. Charles Nelson, a developmental neuroscientist in Boston, said that the study showed foster care can make a significant impact on a child’s progress if it happens during the first two years of a child’s life. “The younger a child is when placed in foster care, the better,” Dr. Nelson noted.
— Jenny Pickard
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