Study: Disadvantages children face at age 3 can foretell adult problems

How are girls doing in school today?

Educators often say they can look at children in fifth grade and predict their life course based on their performance in school and their home situations.

A new study says those predictions can even be made at age 3.

Using long-term tracking of 1,037 New Zealanders from birth through age 38, researchers at Duke University, King’s College London and the University of Otago in New Zealand found clues from early childhood – medical records, government records and  “economically burdensome outcomes,” including welfare dependency and hospitalizations – can foreshadow which children will likely end up troubled adults.

This new research underscores the rising call for public funding of education outreach to infants and toddlers and their families.  As I have written twice in the last week, there is a push to reach babies and toddlers to optimize early brain development.

A study released last week provided strong evidence the window to increase a child’s IQ is birth to age 3. In response to the growing awareness of early brain development, Georgia’s Heard County School System has created a program to educate parents of babies on how to engage their children starting in the cradle.

This new study suggests early intervention targeting at-risk children could reset their life course and save taxpayers money. The children with poor “brain health” at age 3 ended as adults who heavily used the courts, welfare benefits, disability services, children’s services and the healthcare system.

According to an article in Duke Today by Karl Leif Bates about this new study:

A detailed analysis of the lives of nearly a thousand people from birth to age 38 shows that a small portion of the population accounts for the lion’s share of social costs such as crime, welfare dependence and health-care needs as adults.

Just one-fifth of the study population accounted for 81 percent of criminal convictions and 77 percent of fatherless child rearing. This fifth of the group also consumed three-quarters of drug prescriptions, two-thirds of welfare benefits and more than half of the hospital nights and cigarettes smoked.

dukeforecasting

Graphic by Jonathan Fuller/Duke Office of News and Communications.

The researchers found they could have predicted which adults were likely to incur such costs as early as age 3 based on assessments of “brain health,” giving them hope that early interventions could avoid some of these social costs.

The analysis, by researchers at Duke University, King’s College London and the University of Otago in New Zealand, combined data from a long-term study of a group of people born in the same year in Dunedin, New Zealand with their electronic health records and governmental databases on such things as health, welfare and criminal justice.

The research group wanted to test the “Pareto principle,” which is also called the “80-20 rule.” Italian engineer and social scientist Vilfredo Pareto observed a century ago that 80 percent of wealth is controlled by 20 percent of the population. This principle has subsequently been found a useful rule of thumb when applied to phenomena in computer science, biology, physics, economics and many other fields.

“Most expenses from social problems are concentrated in a small segment of the population,” said Avshalom Caspi, Edward M. Arnett professor of psychology & neuroscience and psychiatry & behavioral sciences at Duke. “So whatever segment of the health, social or judicial system that you look at, we find a concentration. And that concentration approximates what Pareto anticipated over 100 years ago. We called the group ‘high-needs/high-costs’.”

The key information the researchers possessed was rich data about the study group in early childhood. At age 3, each child in the study had participated in a 45-minute examination of neurological signs including intelligence, language and motor skills, and then the examiners also rated the children on factors such as frustration tolerance, restlessness and impulsivity. This yielded a summary index the researchers called “brain health.”

In the latest study, low scores on the brain health index at age 3 were found to predict high healthcare and social costs as an adult. “We can predict this quite well, beginning at age 3 by assessing a child’s history of disadvantage, and particularly their brain health,” Caspi said.

The findings remind Rena Subotnik, director of the Center for Psychology in Schools and Education for the American Psychological Association, of a recent effort in New Jersey to put a medical clinic in the neighborhood with the greatest need for services. Educators might be able to do the same sort of thing for these young children at risk of higher social costs, she said. “These are all traits that can be controlled and improved upon with the proper interventions, so identifying them in young children is a gift,” she said. And all of society would benefit. “You get the best bang for the buck with early intervention,” Subotnik said.

“There is a really powerful connection from children’s early beginnings to where they end up,” Caspi said. “The purpose of this was not to use these data to complicate children’s lives any further. It’s to say these children — all children — need a lot of resources, and helping them could yield a remarkable return on investment when they grow up.”

 

Reader Comments 0

40 comments
Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

More "researched based" psycho-babble that focuses on symptoms rather than root cause.  Simply put, certain people should not procreate.  Unfortunately, LBJ and the dimocrates created the welfare state back in the sixties and now, $15 TRILLION dollars later, we still have the same segment of population causing 95% of the issues in our society.


Most of us do not need a "brain health index" to identify the future felons.  If your momma is a welfare queen brood mare with multiple children by multiple partners, if your "parents" are featured on the "Faces of Meth" poster, if your parents possess a room temperature IQ, if your parents think that drawing a check and stealing s--t is a viable career option, then you are going to have a hard time of it.


The root cause is that our welfare policies make it too easy for the dullards, dim wits, and sociopaths to procreate.  Mandatory birth control for welfare recipients, probationers, and parolees would go a long way in alleviating this issue.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

A word to the wise:


And we, as a nation, will continue with this spiritual void under Donald Trump's tenure as president, with his values on wealth and power for the financially elite to rule over the lives of others - black, white, and all others who are poor and middle class.


Watch, now, as Donald Trump starts to privatize most government departments and programs (such as Social Security and Medicare) and makes money by moving markets through his governmental voice as president.  Public schools will take another hit and the people who will suffer most will be the teachers and the students of the "governmental" public schools (and their parents) because traditional public schools have never been fundamentally based on profit for individuals in the private sector but upon love and care for others by public "governmental" servants who put other people first, above wealth and power for themselves, in their value systems.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings



"To love another person is to see the face of God."


Finale, "Les Miserables"

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@MaryElizabethSings

Moreover, the wise will expect gleichschaltung to arise and rebuff it whenever and wherever it does.  More here.

What has been will be again, … there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9 NIV) is not a preordination; rather, it is an invitation to wisdom.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I would hope that you would focus upon the thoughts and ideas I present instead of upon my personality.

Peace and Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah to you and to all who patron this blog.

TGT88
TGT88

You're not going to fix these children, or their families, with a secular (godless) government program. These problems defy a secular government solution. The best thing for such a government is to "do no harm." (Which is currently NOT happening.) 

Starik
Starik

@Mack68 @TGT88 Religious programs help some, but people can't be forced into it.

TGT88
TGT88

@Mack68 @TGT88 Stop lying (i.e. preaching the homosexual agenda, etc.) when it comes to the family, marriage, sex, and sexuality.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

These children's problems start LONG BEFORE they are born!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Wascatlady


That could, also, be said of most of their parents' lives. (Just trying to encourage seeing with a sense of history.)

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Starik @MaryElizabethSings @Wascatlady Absolutely.  It is a multigenerational thing.  We cannot go back 100 years and change anything, but for these children NOW we need to tackle the problems of their parents.  And there are many who are unwilling to devote themselves to doing so, in person or in other ways.  So many have no idea what truly helping would entail--how deep the parents' difficulties lie.


I see some on here who have written, "Just read to your child!  You can use the library for free!"  However, if you don't read yourself, if you don't have transportation to the library, if you don't have extra gas for your car, or the time to go when it is open, THEN what?  And there ARE people for whom each one or all of these do apply!


I had never met an adult who could not read till I moved to the north Georgia mountains.  I am sure, back in Alabama and Florida where I was raised there were many who could not, but was a child and did not know them personally.  But when I was told by the parent of an upcoming student that she would need help to fill out the form for registration, I was perplexed.  (I was also perplexed when she said she did not know her child's daddy, but that is another story.)

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Wascatlady @Starik @MaryElizabethSings


Btw, slaves were not allowed to marry in some states and the raped female slaves may not have known who their child's daddy was, either, nor were slaves allowed to learn to read because literacy would have given them knowledge and knowledge is power. (We, America's society, are reaping what we have first sown through Karma.)

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Starik @MaryElizabethSings @Wascatlady


It is time for the descendants of those who created that kind of dysfunctional society, which was hierarchical in nature, to have a spiritual transformation and "step up" to helping those who have been stomped on - physically and emotionally - by the greed and selfishness of others in power.  It is time for all Americans to be true to their egalitarian creed.


Stop judging and start helping!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Starik @MaryElizabethSings @Wascatlady


Moreover, to all.

I would like to observe more care in comments than simply rational logic regarding the plight of black people in America. I believe that those who live in the present day dysfunctional and poor communities would improve faster knowing that the remainder of society truly cares about their plight and is willing to help, both emotionally and financially, in order to make up for the days of slavery and Jim Crow.


LBJ understood that very well.  That is why he tried to implement the "War on Poverty" and "Great Society" movements which were stopped in the 1970s,  through the present  day, by the greed of the hardcore capitalists and libertarians within our society who believe mainly in serving themselves, especially financially.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I said nothing about excusing. I wrote from a standpoint of deepened awareness and understanding which too few have, imo. That is the behavior that needs to change, primarily, as I see the world.

Mack68
Mack68

The great thing about these findings (if there is a great thing), is that there ARE proven interventions that could have potential in school settings.

Harvard neuroscientists have recently found that mindfulness based stress reduction practice can physically change the brain after just an 8 week course. The effects on the brain are exactly the *opposite* of what is seen after exposure to chronic stress (as would be seen in these adverse early childhood situations).

The brain retains its neuroplasticity throughout adulthood, the Harvard scientists also note.

The Harvard Business Review published an article regarding the neuroscientists' findings: https://hbr.org/2015/01/mindfulness-can-literally-change-your-brain 


Pelosied
Pelosied

Growing up with two caring parents in the home surely outweighs all else combined during those first 3 years.

But the chances of either of the two black girls in the photo actually having a father in the home are, for instance, only 1 in 4.

How sad it is that we don't seem to care. Before taking even more tax dollars away from other families we ought to come to terms with and begin confronting the scourge of single-parent households.

Even if it's "politically incorrect" to do so.

Corey
Corey

@Pelosied Do you know anything about these girls' families? They could be AJC staff members kids. They could be children who were adopted by a loving white family. No, you are not being politically incorrect. Do you know what being "politically incorrect" means? It means when those in the majority grant themselves self righteous authority to decide what should or should not offend those in the minority. There is nothing "politically incorrect" about noting the negative affects of single-parent households.

Pelosied
Pelosied

The self-appointed "guardians" of political correctness are surely the least tolerant (or caring) people in the known universe. And they've become even more intolerant of late because they know that at last the game is up: the rest of us have had enough.

Mack68
Mack68

@Pelosied What's your plan for "confronting" the scourge? 

What are the pieces? How does it work?


Don't Tread
Don't Tread

20% of the study group had an 81% criminal conviction rate and 77% were fatherless growing up.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Corey
Corey

@Don't Tread Other than subscribing to what psychologists call "The Just World Theory" to insulate yourself from empathy, what is your solution?  

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

@Don't Tread WRONG! It IS a coincidence if 2 things occur together. Always.  

What you are implying is that it is not "JUST a coincidence" - that there is a cause and effect relationship between the 2.  

In this, you may be correct.  However, please note that "correlation does not prove causation."  Fatherlessness may cause criminality.  OR there may be other, underlying factors that cause both conditions.   For example, low income mothers may be more likely to both have children without being married AND raise criminals - poverty could cause/correlate with both outcomes.

Please note that you are far from alone.  It seems as though the whole bleeping world has decided to misuse "coincidence" these days.


Starik
Starik

@Corey @Don't Tread The only solution is to intervene in these kids' lives at birth. If necessary, they should be removed from dysfunctional parents and placed in a good foster home, adopted by a good family, or raised in a good orphanage.

Mack68
Mack68

@Starik @Corey @Don't Tread Depending on how you define "dysfunctional" that could be a lot of kids. Where are you going to find all those foster homes or adoptive parents?

This country does not have the orphanages it once had. Welfare was partially a solution to the problem of orphanages.

This article in Johns Hopkins magazine might be interesting: http://pages.jh.edu/jhumag/496web/orphange.html

Starik
Starik

@Mack68 @Starik @Corey @Don't Tread Good article, but after a century of decline I see no reason why we can't have really good orphanages now; Foster homes aren't the solution, too many foster families ane making a living off the kids they foster, and aren't skilled parents themselves. Why not give it a try? Get these kids out of the 'hood. 

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/teenagers-violent-friends-are-more-likely-be-violent-themselves-180961526/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20161221-daily-responsive&spMailingID=27396613&spUserID=NzU3NjY0NTE3OTIS1&spJobID=944412253&spReportId=OTQ0NDEyMjUzS0

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@Starik @Corey @Don't Tread

"The only solution is to intervene in these kids' lives at birth. If necessary, they should be removed from dysfunctional parents and placed in a good foster home, adopted by a good family, or raised in a good orphanage."


And the "parents" are free to create more children.  Until you fix that, the problem is not going away.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I share the views of Vera Wynn, below, and, as a seasoned educator, I have held these views for decades.  Thank you, Maureen Downey, for these last two articles, specifically, which educate the public more thoroughly in valuing the importance of addressing early childhood development, well before children enter school.


Addressing these social problems early in the lives of children will create a more secure and productive society for all citizens.

Starik
Starik

@MaryElizabethSings In a small County like Heard, it can be done. In the Atlanta Metro it would be nearly impossible, and very, very expensive.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Starik @MaryElizabethSings


This program is suitable for any school setting, irrespective of size and for any race or ethnic group of people.


The cost would be minimal compared to the cost to society if we do not help the disenfranchised early in their lives.

Starik
Starik

@MaryElizabethSings @Starik Too many people regard kids as the property of their parents; Heard County has high incomes and few people; a manageable population. Clayton? DeKalb? Fulton? The cost would be a lot more than "minimal." and probably politically impossible.

Tom Green
Tom Green

When you find these children, you'll also find a need to educate the adults in the household too.

Vera Wynn
Vera Wynn

I am happy that you are keeping this issue in the light.Many educators have been saying this for years.Thank you for shinning the light on an important issue