Maltreatment Lowers Kids’ IQs

by: Caitlin Camara

A recent study by Boston Children’s Hospital, along with the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota, has discovered that children exposed to certain trauma, such as domestic violence, are more likely to have a lower IQ score.

The study found that children at the ages of 2, 5, and 8 years old received lower scores that children who had not been exposed to traumatic events.

206 children were observed from birth to age 5, and 37 percent were found to have experienced some type of trauma. These kids scored an average of 7 points lower on their IQ test than those children who did not.  Exposure within the first 24 months had the greatest effect on IQ.

“You can think of trauma as an environmental toxin similar to lead,” says study leader Michelle Bosquet Enlow, PhD, in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Just as we need to eradicate lead exposure to protect IQ, we hope our results will spur efforts to identify families at risk and intervene to prevent this from happening. Maltreatment and violence exposure tend to be seen as criminal justice or social service issues, but they’re also important public health issues.”

Exposure to abuse does not necessarily mean that these children were abused themselves, but rather just witnesses to domestic violence around them.


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