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Early Education Can Improve Health
- Updated: March 28, 2014
A research was conducted back in 1972 on two sets of babies from economically backward families. One set of babies were given complete day-care attention up until the age of five. This included their meals, mental simulation and gaming activities. The other set aside from the usual baby formula got no special treatment. The scientists were on their way to figuring out if special treatment would lead to cognitive abilities in time to come.
Some 42 years later, the researchers, who were based in North Carolina, found something that awed them. They found that the set of babies that were cared for and given special attention and treatment were healthier with lower rates of high blood pressure and obesity, with higher levels of ‘good’ cholesterol. This study was published in the journal Science on Thursday. This is concrete proof of the fact that an economically backward child will have long-term health effects stemming from improper care and attention in the early stages.
“This tells us that adversity matters and it does affect adult health,” said James Heckman, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who led the data analysis. “But it also shows us that we can do something about it, that poverty is not just a hopeless condition.” Professor Heckman is of the opinion that effective programs for development should start at infancy. This is when skills that determine and define a person’s life are acquired.
The data in the study was taken from the Carolina Abecedarian Project, which included one hundred infants from low-income families in North Carolina. Their development was tracked and analyzed from infancy to their mid-thirties. “Forty years ago, it was all about cognition,” Professor Heckman said. “But it turned out that when you expand these capabilities — not only cognitive but social and emotional — one of the effects is better health. Nobody thought about that at the time.”