Early Neglect Alters Brain Development in Children
Until the 1990s, the orphanages of Romania were notorious for their harsh, overcrowded conditions. Those perceptions have been borne out in new research that finds growing up in such an environment can change the brain for good. Institutionalization in early childhood can alter a child’s brain and behavior in the long run, the research finds. Fortunately, early intervention can stave off the effects.
The study, conducted with children growing up in Romanian orphanages, reveals changes in the brain composition of kids who spent their first years in institutions versus those who were randomly assigned to foster care. The findings point to a “sensitive period” in the brain for social development.