Childhood Adversity, Earlier Puberty, Premature Brain Development, and Greater Mental Illness
In a recent study conducted a the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, links were established between the occurrence of low socioeconomic status and traumatic stressful events in early childhood that led to an increase in mental health disorders later in life. While this information has been known, and established, to some degree, this research shows stronger links than what was previously believed. "Additionally, these effects were larger in females than in males."
For the most part, children that are impacted by traumatic events in life do not have the power or control to regulate these types of events in their lives. While this can be the case, it also does not mean that it is the end of the road. While the brain can be impacted negatively during early childhood, the brain will also continue to grow throughout our life as understood through neuroplasticity. In other words, traumatic events do not have to be a life sentence.
While we cannot prevent all harm that will be done to children in the world, we can work to improve conditions around us and work to heal damage that has been done. If anything, it is a good reminder to always work on being mindful about how we are showing up in the world and impacting those around us. We carry our own wounds while also interacting with others that carry wounds we know nothing about.
This research is a good reminder about the need for trauma-informed practices or any practice that can support healthy brain development and function - some practices of which can include a healthy diet, mindfulness and meditation practices, a good night's sleep, regular exercise, frequent time in nature, and even building new relationships. In addition, it points to the importance of attending regular therapy to heal emotional wounds with a trained clinician. There are plenty of other activities which can help support improved brain function, these are just a few to stimulate ideas.
“The findings underscore the need to pay attention to the environment in which the child grows. Poverty and trauma have strong associations with behavior and brain development, and the effects are much more pervasive than previously believed,” said the study’s lead author Raquel E. Gur, MD, PhD, a professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of the Lifespan Brain Institute."
If you want to read the findings directly you can follow the link provided below to find the post at the Penn Medicine News website.