Early Childhood Development and Social Inequalities

Early Childhood Development and Social Inequalities By All families should have the same opportunities to live a descent life. But due to the backgrounds of some families, and children, they may not have a chance for this. There are certain risk factors that have a bearing on social inequalities in health, and particularly those that are prone to preventative intervention.

There are many that I could talk about, but I have picked out four of these factors to talk about. They are biological factors, family and social factors, parenting factors, and attachment. Even these I feel that I will not be able to cover completely, because there is only a certain part we see, and then there is the that is kept hidden from all.

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There are many factors that influence the development and social inequalities in a child’s life. These include biological, family and social factors, parenting factors, attachment, and the way non-maternal care is influenced. All of these are risk factors that are likely to have a bearing on the child’s social inequalities on their health.

The biological factors include premature birth, low birth weight, and a serious medical illness. The significantly influence and infants growth. “Low birth weight, less than 2500 grams, has a prevalence of 6 percent in white middle-class U.S. women, and 15 percent in ethnic minority teenagers. These teenagers tend to be single mothers.”

At the Infant Health and Development Project, they found that in a large amount of premature infants, that their IQ was less than 85 at three years of age. Race was the greatest factor in predicting outcome, that was followed by maternal education, and then medical complications. The infants of poorly educated African American mothers (90%) who had medical complications were severely compromised, while only nine percent of white infants with well-educated parents fell into this category, regardless of birth complications.

There are other biological variables that seem to be independent of psycho-social factors. In one study, it was shown that if the mother smoked during her pregnancy, there appeared to be a high risk for conduct disorder and male children. This study suggested that are maybe a direct effect on the still developing fetus. “The influences of genetics are seen as an impact on social inequalities. The MacArthur Longitudinal Twin Study provided researchers with important information related to genetic factors in behavioral inhibition.”

Behavioral inhibition is unstable between ages of 14 to 24 months, and that this change is due to genetics rather then environmental factors. It suggests that genes may turn off and on at different ages, and that genes are “context dependent.” In example of the Twin Study, comparisons between the identical and fraternal twins show that there was a continual genetic influence showing responses on cognitive, emotional, and behavior arousal in response to distress of another, at the ages of 24 and 36 months.

Social influences that were shared by the twins with their interactions with parents and others were a major influence with the mothers, but not the testers. So genetic influences showed up more readily. Genetic influences were ever present are not environmentally controlled. Maybe the social background of a child with a low SES (socioeconomic status) could inhibit or caused the trigger effect (turn on or off) of genetic propensities. Our next topic is the family and social factors.

Two of the biggest are social class andpoverty. These have been found very often to predict the developmental outcomes of childhood. There are suggestions that infants and young children who grow up in poverty are more likely to suffer health problems., cognitive delays and behavioral problems as compared to children who do not grow up in poverty.

These poor children “more likely to experience medical problems such as lead poisoning, failure to thrive, otitis media, iron deficiency, anemia, and to score lower on developmental and cognitive  scales.” There are many variables that effect relationships indirectly, these include nutrition, housing, medical care, lifestyles, neighborhood quality, accidents, and exposure to toxic substances. Also a social and emotional qualities in which the child develops: parenting skills, maltreatment, maternal disharmony, and quality of care.

Young children who have a low SES are assigned the term “doubled jeopardy,” because they are not only exposed to risk factors more frequently, but they also experience more serious consequences from these risks. People from a low SES background are vulnerable to negative events in their lives such as single parenting, social isolation, and unemployment. The fate of the child raised in poverty is further jeopardized by more exposure to power-assertive discipline and physical punishment without the parenting support they need.

Evidence of poor abusive families who live in poverty is likely to be associated with an increase in the severity of maltreatment. “The effect of low SES on social development and delinquency is particularly strong when experienced in early childhood.” Poverty severely affects the child’s home environment. There are other features of poverty that are also linked to social class. There is a study done in 1991 that showed adolescent mothers who had a two-month old infant, that there was more role-reversal in low SES subjects.

Infants and toddlers who live in poor families showed that their level of stimulation is likely to be lower than in more affluent households. This lower-level of stimulation, in the support which is found in the homes of low SES children is frequently pointed out as the most important detriment of a poor developmental outcome.