Brain scientists
Scientists have found a link between brain inflammation and Alzheimer's treatment and prevention. Shutterstock/Gods_Kings

Children who went through hardships and neglect grow up to adulthood with smaller brains which means they have low IQ as well. Experts revealed that the brains of people who were exposed to severely depriving conditions when they were young have shrunk by as much as 8.6% compared to those who did not experience any forms of deprivation.

According to the study that was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, kids who have been neglected and not given the basic needs during their childhood years could grow up with reduced brain size. The research cited the children who were raised in orphanages as an example as they grew up under deprived conditions.

“We found structural differences between the two groups in three regions of the brain,” Professor Mitul Mehta, lead author of the research said. “These regions are linked to functions such as organization, motivation, integration of information and memory.”

Childhood deprivation has already been linked to mental and health issues before that include low IQ and a higher risk of developing ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. It was said that the effects of this deprivation were more noticeable in children who have been neglected for a longer period. The study showed that in every additional month that a child is deprived, his or her brain will shrink by 0.27%.

BBC News reported that the study was done on 67 children who stayed in Romanian orphanages in the early 1990s. They were adopted by families from the U.K. and given a chance to live in a loving home. However, before they were adopted, they endured violence, severe neglect and malnourishment.

The horrifying care that the children received at the orphanages were exposed when Romania's communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was ousted in 1989. The researchers at King's College London conducted a study on these adopted children who stayed in the Romanian orphanages that they labeled as "hellhole."

Based on the study, the children were psychologically and physically deprived with almost no social contact, no toys and oftentimes afflicted with diseases and unable to receive proper care and treatment. It was said that most of the adults who took part in the study still carry the scars of their upsetting past even if they have new families who love them unconditionally now.

"What we found is really quite striking," Professor Sonuga-Barke told the news outlet. “First the total brain volume - the size of the brain - was 8.6% smaller in the Romanian adoptees on average. And the longer they spent in the Romanian orphanages, the greater the reduction in brain size.”

Finally, the researchers hope that the results of their study could pave the way for the neglected individuals to get the support and care that they need while transitioning to adulthood.

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