Top 10 Canadian Early Childhood Development Studies of the Year: Socioeconomic Status and Brain Development


The Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development annually releases a compilation of the 10 best Canadian studies in the field of Early Childhood Development. This fascinating bulletin includes summaries of studies spanning the gamut of ECD hot topics. One of the top choices from last year features an article out of McGill University that links socioeconomic status to brain development in early life.

[quote]“Parenting and family function occur within a context. Punitive, or even abusive parenting, most often occurs in a context of parents who are themselves carrying a mental health burden. That mental health burden is often associated with the conditions of their life, and the most prevailing and profound condition that alters parenting is poverty.” -Dr. Michael Meaney[/quote]

By combining the social determinants of health with evidence from the fields of neuroscience and evolutionary biology, Dr. Meaney’s study finds that “… the effects of poverty on child development are mediated by both parenting and the home environment.”

In terms of public policy, the study supports establishing a minimum level of income for every family and asserts that spending public money in this way will in fact improve circumstances and the brain development of children living in poverty.

Dr. Marni Brownell, an expert in the social determinants of health form the University of Manitoba reflects that “We’ve known for years that there’s a socioeconomic gradient in health, and the lower your socioeconomic status, the poorer your health outcomes. That gradient occurs in kids, not just in health but also in school performance and emotional and social development. What’s important about this research is it provides that link between socioeconomic status and mental health and between socioeconomic status and school achievement. And that link is that the environment alters brain development.”

Read the entire study.

The compilation includes other studies on:

  • Social Skills Development: Putting the Puzzle Together
  • Language from the Beginning
  • Young Children May Remember More Than We Think
  • Unraveling Suicide and Depression
  • Better Data on Child Deaths Could Save More Lives
  • Healthy Weight, Health Babies
  • Simple Plan, Big Payoff: Type 1 Diabetes
  • Legacy of Bipolarity for Preschoolers
  • Mother to Child Transmissions of HIV Through Breastfeeding

Read these summary articles summary articles.