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The Impact of Poverty on Childhood Development Noted in Kids as Young as 5

Dr. Neal Halfon, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management, was interviewed by UCLA Health's U Magazine about his research, published in the journal Health Affairs, that found health inequities can be measured in children as young as 5 years old

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Health inequities can be measured in children as young as 5 years old, UCLA researchers have found. The results of this nationwide study, conducted with the help of kindergarten teachers, contribute to a growing body of literature revealing that children of color who are also poor face greater health inequities than their white counterparts.

The study was conducted using the Early Development Instrument (EDI), an assessment tool that measures children’s physical, social, emotional and language development. Researchers trained kindergarten teachers in 98 school districts across the United States to administer the EDI to more than 185,000 kindergarteners from 2010 to 2017, with UCLA piloting the tool in Santa Ana in 2009 in partnership with First Five Orange County.

After analyzing and correlating the results according to where the children lived, the investigators found that 30% of children in the lowest-income neighborhoods were vulnerable in one or more domains of health development, compared to 17% of children in higher-income settings.

by Jane Murcia