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posted by mrpg on Thursday June 10, @10:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the that-explains-mine dept.

A link between childhood stress and early molars:

"I've long been concerned that if kids grow up too fast, their brains will mature too fast and will lose plasticity at an earlier age. Then they'll go into school and have trouble learning at the same rate as their peers," says Mackey, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Penn. "Of course, not every kid who experiences stress or [is] low income will show this pattern of accelerated development."

What would help, she thought, was a scalable, objective way -- a physical manifestation, of sorts -- to indicate how children embodied and responded to stresses in their world. Eruption timing of the first permanent molars proved to be just that.

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mackey, with doctoral student Cassidy McDermott and colleagues from Penn's School of Dental Medicine and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, shows that children from lower-income backgrounds and those who go through greater adverse childhood experiences get their first permanent molars earlier. The findings, generated initially from a small study and replicated using a nationally representative dataset, align with a broader pattern of accelerated development often seen under conditions of early-life stress.

Journal Reference:
Cassidy L. McDermott, Katherine Hilton, Anne T. Park, et al. Early life stress is associated with earlier emergence of permanent molars [open], Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2105304118)


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  • (Score: 2) by helel on Thursday June 10, @11:15PM

    by helel (2949) on Thursday June 10, @11:15PM (#1144117)

    How many times did you need to look words up in the dictionary when learning your native tongue? I'll bet it was a heck of a lot less than 20!

    Joking aside, the research disagrees with you. The ability to memorize vocabulary (the aspect of language acquisition you discuss) remains fairly consistent into adulthood. By contrast the ability to master grammar and correctly vocalize are seen to decrease with age. Take the common multi-generational immigrant family. It's quite common that the children who began the local language before age 10 can speak without any accent at all while adults in the family may understand just as well but retain a strong accent for decades or even the rest of their life. That's neural plasticity at work. It takes longer for the adults to rewire their brains.

    Like I said in my first post, whether or not any of this is relevant to children in school is questionable. This study certainly doesn't settle the matter. However, the fact that these researchers are studying the matter doesn't mean all previous research is suddenly null and void.

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