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Childhood Adversity Tied to Race-Related Differences in Brain Development

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Data from Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development) showed that black children had less gray matter in major brain regions than white children.AIUEO) study.

Among children aged 9 to 10 years, Caucasian children were showed greater gray mass compared to black children. , and caudal anterior cingulate (all P.<0.001), Nathaniel Harnett, Ph.D., Director of Neurobiology, Institute for Emotional Traumatic Experiences, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts, and co-authors reported.

Compared with white children, black children experienced more traumatic events, material hardships, and family conflicts, lived in more disadvantaged neighborhoods, and people had lower income and educational attainment and were more likely to be unemployed. American Journal of Psychiatry.

“More exposure to these adversities was associated with decreased gray mass in several subregions of the amygdala and PFC. [prefrontal cortex]Harnett and team wrote, “Together, our findings suggest that disparities in childhood adversity are linked to race-related differences in the structure of neural circuits associated with PTSD and other trauma- and stress-related disorders.” We emphasize the impact.”

Of note, income is the most common predictor of gray mass imbalance.

The analysis provides additional evidence that contradicts claims about inherent race-related differences in the brain, Harnett said. Today’s Medpage.

“The disproportionate burden of structural inequalities we impose on some groups has measurable effects on their brains, and these effects are felt even in children aged 9 to 10. “It starts,” he said.. “Our research seeks to understand how adversity affects the brain in general, and how minority and racialized individuals who experience these adversities It occupies a slightly unique place in trying to understand how these experiences are uniquely impacted.”

In discussing their study, Harnett and colleagues noted that “adversity in childhood can have lasting adverse effects on mental health in adulthood,” and earlier research found that early childhood We noted that a positive association was found between early adversity and subsequent prevalence of poor psychosocial and behavioral outcomes. Life including PTSD, anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol use, low life satisfaction, suicide attempts and thoughts, and perpetration of violence.

“For people in the clinical field, it is important to think seriously about how what people experience shapes their behavior and how differences between races and ethnic groups are shaped.” If you see a patient with such a wide range of adverse experiences, how does that affect the care you are giving them?”

so Accompanying editorialDeanna M. Barch, Ph.D., and Joan L. Luby, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Washington in St. Louis, said the study explores the role social factors play in human health and racial disparities in mental health outcomes.

“The purpose of the analysis was clearly to unravel and correct the long reported history of differences in health, behavioral and neurological outcomes attributed to race and ethnicity,” they wrote. “These older models generally fail to recognize and account for the powerful effects of the psychosocial environment on biological processes, including brain development, and are categorized into race-associated biology. It draws an oversimplified and erroneous conclusion about the differences between the two.”

These brain regions are known to be important in regulating emotions, Harnett said, so the findings suggest that addressing structural inequalities could impact black children’s future and adulthood potential. suggested that it could influence psychiatric outcomes.

“These are children,” he said. “They couldn’t choose where they were born. They couldn’t choose their environment or their parents, yet they were able to carry the burden of these adversities in ways that have proven harmful.” They are asked to carry it on their backs. Their brains can affect their development later in life.”

“All of us in the clinical, research, and policy arena should be aware of what can be done to mitigate the potentially detrimental effects that these aspects of structural racism can have on development. I think you really need to think about it.

For this study, Harnett and colleagues analyzed data on 7,350 white and 1,786 black children in an ABCD cohort who were 9 or 10 years old at recruitment between March and July 2019. Did. girl.

Participants were recruited from public and private schools across the United States and tested on a variety of social measures, including family arrangements, neighborhood disadvantage, and history of trauma using parent-child self-reports and U.S. Census data. Accessed. All participants underwent structural MRI.

  • Michael DePauw-Wilson Corporate and investigative team reporter for MedPage Today. He covers psychiatry, long coronaviruses, and infectious diseases, among other relevant US clinical news. follow


This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Harnett reports no conflicts of interest. A co-author reported ties with several pharmaceutical companies, while another reported her ties to the international community for trauma and dissection research, and her Acadia Pharmaceuticals for her spouse. Reported relationship with support from Vanderbilt University for technology licensed to

Luby reported receiving royalties from Guilford Press. Birch reports no conflicts of interest.

Primary information

American Journal of Psychiatry

Source reference: Dumornay NM, et al. “Racial disparities in childhood adversity and the false appearance of race-related differences in brain structure.” Am J Psychiatry 2023; DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.21090961.

secondary source

American Journal of Psychiatry

Source reference: Barch DM, Luby JL. “Understanding the social determinants of brain health during development.” Am J Psychiatry 2023; DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.20220991.

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