Childhood socio‐economic disadvantage predicts reduced myelin growth across adolescence and young adulthood

Gabriel Ziegler, Michael Moutoussis, Tobias U. Hauser, Pasco Fearon, Edward T. Bullmore, Ian M. Goodyer, Peter Fonagy, Peter B. Jones, Ulman Lindenberger, Raymond J. Dolan
2020 Human Brain Mapping  
Socio-economic disadvantage increases exposure to life stressors. Animal research suggests early life stressors impact later neurodevelopment, including myelin developmental growth. To determine how early life disadvantage may affect myelin growth in adolescence and young adulthood, we analysed data from an accelerated longitudinal neuroimaging study measuring magnetisation transfer (MT), a myelin-sensitive marker, in 288 participants (149 female) between 14 and 25 years of age at baseline. We
more » ... ound that early life economic disadvantage before age 12, measured by a neighbourhood poverty index, was associated with slower myelin growth. This association was observed for magnetization transfer in cortical, subcortical and core white matter regions, and also in key subcortical nuclei. Participant IQ at baseline, alcohol use, body mass index, parental occupation and self-reported parenting quality did not account for these effects, but parental education did so partially. Specifically, positive parenting moderated the effect of socio-economic disadvantage in a protective manner. Thus, early socioeconomic disadvantage appears to alter myelin growth across adolescence. This finding has potential translational implications, including clarifying whether reducing socio-economic disadvantage during childhood, and increasing parental education and positive parenting, promote normal trajectories of brain development in economically disadvantaged contexts.
doi:10.1002/hbm.25024 pmid:32432383 pmcid:PMC7375075 fatcat:x6vpq7t7fbgbhppwy44rsskcim