Local researchers connect birth health and educational success
Published Friday, May 11, 2012 6:32PM CST
Researchers at the University of Manitoba released a new study which found that a baby's health at birth could determine its future success at school.
The study cross-referenced teacher reports on kindergarten students with anonymous information from their health records.
Researchers discovered that certain factors, such as being born to a teenage mom, or having low birth weight, could accurately predict which group of children would be unprepared for school.
"Poverty, violence in the community, mental health challenges, isolation, lack of social support. those toxic stressors actually derail the development of the brain," says Rob Santos, of the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy.
Santos says these factors leave children with varying degrees of cognitive, emotional and physical deficits.
Preventing that from happening is one of the reasons why Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre has a prenatal program, to support teenage moms.
"They come up with a labour plan, nursing vs. bottle feeding and proper health and nutrition," says Denise Pelland of Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre.
Researchers say, while it will take a lot of effort, the gap can be closed later in life for children struggling due to these social factors.
Santos says early intervention is key. The study found there were many things that could be done to close the gap, for example; less healthy children, who were breast fed, performed better than children who weren't.
-- with a report from CTV's Jon Hendricks