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Deprived Children

February 17, 2006

Many countries place orphaned and abandoned children in institutions, where they may get food and shelter but little love. A new study is looking into how this type of environment damages children–and what we can do to heal them.


The effects of social deprivation. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Children in Romanian institutions receive little affection and stimulation, and often have developmental problems as a result. Now a study called the Bucharest Early Intervention Project has shown that young children can recover from this deprivation if they are moved into caring families. Developmental psychologist Nathan Fox of the University of Maryland says after several years in foster homes, children in the study were approaching normal body size and I-Qs, and they showed fewer psychiatric problems.

NATHAN FOX (University of Maryland):
Although there the findings are a bit more mixed with the children who were placed in foster care still showing problems in attention and attention deficit.

Fox says the results are a testament to the importance of early care for normal development—and to the remarkable resilience of the body and brain.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.