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Neglected children end up with 'smaller brains'

By ITS Education Asia

Based on research from King’s College London, an early life full of neglect, deprivation and adversity can lead to people growing up with smaller brains.

The researchers at King's College London were following adopted children who spent time in "hellhole" Romanian orphanages. They grew up with brains 8.6% smaller than other adoptees.

The researchers said it was the "most compelling" evidence of the impact on the adult brain. He described the institutions as "hellholes" where children were "chained into their cots, rocking, filthy and emaciated".

The children were physically and psychologically deprived with little social contact, no toys and often ravaged by disease. The children studied had spent between two weeks and four years in such institutions.

Prof Sonuga-Barke said "This study is important because it highlights for the first time, in a compelling way, the power of the early environment and early adversity to shape brain development.

"It drives impairments over this long period of time - over 20 years - even when children have received top-notch care in loving adoptive families."

Once again it shows the need to protect children from neglect as the effect of such can last for a lifetime.

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