Sunday February 24, 2019

Children who grow up in Poorer Homes more likely to experience Puberty earlier than their Peers: Study

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Melbourne, May 24, 2017: Children who grow up in poorer homes are more likely to experience puberty earlier than their peers, said an Australian study on Wednesday.

The study, published by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), found that boys in disadvantaged homes were four times as likely to being puberty at age 10 or 11, while girls were twice as likely, Xinhua news agency reported.

Researchers surveyed the parents of 3,700 children who were part of the ‘Growing Up’ Australia programme on how their children were maturing and the age at which they started to show signs of puberty.

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Ying Sun, a visiting academic at the MCRIs from China and lead author of the study, said 19 and 21 per cent respectively of all boys and girls surveyed showed signs of puberty at age 10 or 11 but boys from disadvantaged home were 4.2 times more likely to be part of that group than boys from a favorable background.

She said the difference could be attributed to the bodies of children from poorer families perceiving themselves to be in a dangerous environment.

“I look at it as an evolutionary point,” Sun told Xinhua.

“I think humans are very sensitive to our early childhood environment… and when we feel we are in a dangerous environment our body tells us to fasten our speed of maturation to produce more kids to ensure our genes are passed on to the next generation.” The research has prompted concerns for children growing up in lower socio-economic areas, with early puberty being linked to a series of health complications later in life.

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“Early maturation not only links with emotional, behavioral and social problems during adolescence, it also carries several risks for later life such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and especially reproductive tract cancers, that is the most important thing,” Sun said.

Researchers were able to identify children from disadvantaged homes by gathering data on the annual income going into the household where they were raised.

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Study Reveals Midday Meals in School Improves Child’s Scores and Skills

The effect of nutrition appears to be cumulative, seen over time.

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Food provided to children during Midday Meal. Pixabay

Primary school children who ate midday meals over an extended period were shown to have significantly better learning outcomes, according to researchers of Indian-origin.

The researchers, in the study published in the Journal of Development Economics, suggest a powerful connection between nutrition and education.

Professors Rajshri Jayaraman from ESMT Berlin in Germany and Tanika Chakraborty from the Indian Institute of Technology in India studied the effects of India’s midday meal scheme – the world’s largest free school lunch programme – feeding over 120 million children every day.

midday meal
Children showed an improvement of nine per cent for maths test scores. Pixabay

The study showed that children with up to five years of midday meals had reading test scores that are 18 per cent higher than those of students with less than a year of school lunches.

In addition, they showed an improvement of nine per cent for maths test scores.

“The effect of nutrition appears to be cumulative, seen over time. Previous studies have varied between two weeks and two years, and failed to capture the important impact. Our research shows that the real benefit of school lunches was seen in children exposed for two to five years,” said Jayaraman.

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For the study, the researchers used data from nearly 600 rural districts in India, covering over 200,000 households.

In 2017, World Food Programme implemented or supported school feeding programmes for 18.3 million children in 71 countries.(IANS)