The effects of severe psychosocial deprivation and foster care intervention on cognitive development at 8 years of age: Findings from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project

Department of Human Development, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 6.46). 09/2011; 52(9):919-28. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02355.x
Source: PubMed


Previous reports from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project suggested that children removed from institutions and placed into intervention displayed gains in IQ relative to children randomized to remain in institutional care.
The current report presents data from the 8-year follow-up of these children. One hundred and three of the original 136 children in the study were tested with the WISC IV.
Results reveal continued benefit from the intervention even though many of the children in both the intervention and control groups were no longer residing in their initial placements. Gains in IQ were particularly evident for those children who remained with their intervention family. There were also modest timing effects such that children placed earlier displayed higher scores on the WISC processing speed subscale. Early placement was also a significant predictor of a profile of stable, typical IQ scores over time.
These data suggest the continued importance of early intervention and the negative effects of severe psychosocial deprivation on the development of IQ scores across early childhood.

Download full-text


Available from: Charles H Zeanah, Jul 14, 2015
1 Follower
22 Reads
  • Source
    • "(2011) "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Building upon the transactional model of brain development, we explore the impact of early maternal deprivation on neural development and plasticity in three neural systems: hyperactivity/impulsivity, executive function, and hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis functioning across rodent, nonhuman primate, and human studies. Recognizing the complexity of early maternal–infant interactions, we limit our cross-species comparisons to data from rodent models of artificial rearing, nonhuman primate studies of peer rearing, and the relations between these two experimental approaches and human studies of children exposed to the early severe psychosocial deprivation associated with institutional care. In addition to discussing the strengths and limitations of these paradigms, we present the current state of research on the neurobiological impact of early maternal deprivation and the evidence of sensitive periods, noting methodological challenges. Integrating data across preclinical animal models and human studies, we speculate about the underlying biological mechanisms; the differential impact of deprivation due to temporal factors including onset, offset, and duration of the exposure; and the possibility and consequences of reopening of sensitive periods during adolescence.
    Development and Psychopathology 05/2015; 27(02):347-367. DOI:10.1017/S0954579415000036 · 4.89 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Previous studies have found both cognitive deficits and neuroanatomical differences in children exposed to early institutional rearing when compared to typically developing children (Fox, Almas, Degnan, Nelson, & Zeanah, 2011; Nelson et al., 2007; Sheridan et al., 2010; Sheridan, Fox, Zeanah, McLaughlin, & Nelson, 2012). While institutional care is significantly predictive of negative neurocognitive outcomes, individual differences in both the impact of early adversity, as well as the degree of recovery following placement in improved caregiving environments, has been demonstrated (Fox et al., 2011). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: An individual’s neurodevelopmental and cognitive sequelae to negative early experiences may, in part, be explained by genetic susceptibility. We examined whether extreme differences in the early caregiving environment, defined as exposure to severe psychosocial deprivation associated with institutional care compared to normative rearing, interacted with a biologically informed genoset comprising BDNF (rs6265), COMT (rs4680), and SIRT1 (rs3758391) to predict distinct outcomes of neurodevelopment at age 8 (N = 193, 97 males and 96 females). Ethnicity was categorized as Romanian (71%), Roma (21%), unknown (7%), or other (1%). We identified a significant interaction between early caregiving environment (i.e., institutionalized versus never institutionalized children) and the a priori defined genoset for full-scale IQ, two spatial working memory tasks, and prefrontal cortex gray matter volume. Model validation was performed using a bootstrap resampling procedure. Although we hypothesized that the effect of this genoset would operate in a manner consistent with differential susceptibility, our results demonstrate a complex interaction where vantage susceptibility, diathesis stress, and differential susceptibility are implicated.
    International Journal of Behavioral Development 06/2014; 39(2). DOI:10.1177/0165025414538557 · 1.58 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "This is particularly well exemplified by research from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (www., which shows that foster care can, at least partially, reverse impairments in brain activity and cognition suffered by orphaned children (Smyke et al. 2010, Vanderwert et al. 2010, Fox et al. 2011, Sheridan et al. 2012, also see Rutter & O'Connor 2004). Moreover, our own studies have shown spontaneous recovery from stressinduced neuromorphological and behavioural changes in the rat brain (Sousa & Almeida 2012) and pharmacological correction of early life stress (ELS)-induced alterations in neuroendocrine, emotional and cognitive impairments in mice (Murgatroyd et al. 2009). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To consider the evidence that human and animal behaviors are epigenetically programmed by lifetime experiences. Extensive PubMed searches were carried out to gain a broad view of the topic, in particular from the perspective of human psychopathologies such as mood and anxiety disorders. The selected literature cited is complemented by previously unpublished data from the authors' laboratories. Evidence that physiological and behavioral functions are particularly sensitive to the programming effects of environmental factors such as stress and nutrition during early life, and perhaps at later stages of life, is reviewed and extended. Definition of stimulus- and function-specific critical periods of programmability, together with deeper understanding of the molecular basis of epigenetic regulation will deliver greater appreciation of the full potential of the brain's plasticity while providing evidence-based social, psychological and pharmacological interventions to promote lifetime well-being. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Acta Physiologica 06/2013; 210(1). DOI:10.1111/apha.12140 · 4.38 Impact Factor
Show more