Adverse childhood experiences can occur anywhere including in the environment. Check out this article from our colleagues in psychiatry at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Trauma-Free NYC's Dr. Virginia Rauh.


Editor's note:


Children from economically disadvantaged communities have a disproportionate risk of exposure to chemicals, social stress, and learning difficulties. Although animal models and epidemiologic studies link exposures and neurodevelopment, little focus has been paid to academic outcomes in environmental health studies. Similarly, in the educational literature, environmental chemical exposures are overlooked as potential etiologic factors in learning difficulties. We propose a theoretical framework for the etiology of learning difficulties that focuses on these understudied exogenous factors. We discuss findings from animal models and longitudinal, prospective birth cohort studies that support this theoretical framework. Studies reviewed point to the effects of prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on reading comprehension and math skills via effects on inhibitory control processes. Long term, this work will help close the achievement gap in the United States by identifying behavioral and neural pathways from prenatal exposures to learning difficulties in children from economically disadvantaged families.

Amy E. Margolis, Paige Greenwood, Alex Dranovsky, Virginia Rauh
August 21, 2023