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Socioeconomic Status May Affect Early Development

Jun 24, 2015 08:25PM ● By MED Magazine
Socioeconomic status could have an effect on language and memory development at as early as 21 months, according to a study co-authored by investigators from the Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention at Sanford Research.

“Socioeconomic disparities in neurocognitive development in the first two years of life” was published ahead of print by Developmental Psychobiology. Senior author Amy Elliott, PhD, Jyoti Angal, MPH, and Luke Mack, MA, of the Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention contributed to the study. It was conducted in collaboration with colleagues from Columbia University and the PASS Network, a National Institutes of Health initiative designed to explore the role of prenatal exposure to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

A total of 179 infants from socioeconomically diverse families living in Sanford Health’s Sioux Falls region were recruited and tested for competency in memory and language. Half were tested at nine and 15 months, and half were tested at 15 and 21 months. Researchers also noted various factors related to the infant’s home life, like education level and life experiences of parents, literary environment and parental affection towards the child known as “parental warmth.”

At 21 months, children of highly educated parents scored higher in language and memory than those of less-educated parents. Additionally, data indicated a more robust literacy environment and more parental warmth corresponded with the differences in language development.

“This study reveals just how early in life children can become developmentally at risk,” said Elliott, who serves as director and senior scientist for the Center for Health Outcomes and Prevention. “Both clinicians and caregivers can use this research as a guide to ensure earlier intervention efforts for infants and increase attention to home environments.”