For Immediate Release
July 26, 2012
Contacts: Helima Cherif, 301-405-0476 or firstname.lastname@example.org
New Research Shows Kids in Romanian institutions Can Suffer Impaired Brain Structure
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Dramatic new research in Romania shows that children who are warehoused in orphanages really do suffer brain damage. University of Maryland Education researcher Nathan Fox and colleagues from Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard and Tulane have been following the development of children who originally were housed in six orphanages around the capital city of Bucharest. Their program - the Bucharest Early Intervention Program - has been going on for some 13 years. During that time, a random group of the children were moved from orphanages to foster homes - homes the program actually started from scratch.
Research over that time showed that placing children in foster homes really did make a difference in their ability to develop normally vs. being warehoused with little love or attention. Now the researchers have taken the next step by examining the brains of 79 children aged 8-11 using MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and EEG (electroencephalography) equipment in country. Professor Fox says that analysis of the 74 usable scans provides some good news: there is potential for developmental"catch up" even after the children were deprived in the orphanages.
Among the findings:
Orphanages Founded During the Days of Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu
Under communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania pursued a plan to increase the nation's population. "The country was still very poor at the time," explains Fox. "So there was a high rate of infant abandonment." To take care of children that parents could not support, Ceausescu set up a series of maternity hospitals and orphanages that remained after he was deposed. They have been variously described as "regimented, harsh and overcrowded."
The post-communist Romanian government knew it needed to help these children by making changes in its child welfare system but needed proof a western-style foster care program could make a difference."Many children raised in orphanages in Romania are at dramatically increased risk for a number of social and behavioral abnormalities such as disturbances of attachment, inattention/hyperactivity, externalizing behavior problems, and a syndrome that mimics autism," reports the Web site www.macbrain.org.
The Bucharest Early Intervention Program has dramatically changed the way Romania handles its system of warehousing these children by proving that loving families can make a real impact on a child's development.
The Bucharest Intervention Project research was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program, the Harvard School of Public Health, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Binder Family Foundation, the Help the Children of Romania Foundation and the National Institute of Mental Health.
Early Neglect Alters Kids' Brains (LiveWire)
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