Summary: “UNICEF estimates that there are approximately 8 million children worldwide who live in institutions. Institutional rearing often involves severe psychosocial neglect associated with suboptimal brain and behavioral development. This study uses data from the only existing longitudinal RCT of foster care for institutionally reared children to examine trajectories of memory and executive functioning from childhood to adolescence. We show that institutional rearing is associated with persistent problems in certain functional domains, and developmental stagnancy in others, across this transitional period. There is suggestive evidence that children assigned to early foster care may demonstrate some catch-up over time. Brain activity in childhood is associated with long-term outcomes through age 16, together underscoring the impact of early neglect on children’s neurocognitive development.”

Wade M, Fox NA, Zeanah CH and Nelson III, CA: Long-term effects of institutional rearing, foster care, and brain activity on memory and executive functioning. Proc.Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 116 (5): 1808-1813 (2019).

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