Early environmental factors that affect child cognitive test
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Inequities in social environments are likely associated with a large portion of racial disparities in childhood cognitive performance. Identification of the specific exposures associated with cognitive development is needed to inform prevention efforts.

This study aimed to identify modifiable factors associated with childhood cognitive performance. This longitudinal pregnancy cohort study included 1503 mother-child dyads who were enrolled in the University of Tennessee Health Science Center–Conditions Affecting Neurodevelopment and Learning in Early Life study and assessed annually until the children were aged 4 to 6 years.

The analytic sample comprised 1055 mother-child dyads. A total of 155 prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal exposures were included to evaluate environment-wide associations. Participants comprised a community-based sample of pregnant women who were recruited between 16 weeks and 28 weeks of gestation from 4 hospitals in Shelby County, Tennessee. Women with high-risk pregnancies were excluded.

-- Of 1055 children included in the analytic sample, 532 (50.4%) were female.

-- Among mothers, the mean age was 26.0 years; 676 mothers were Black, and 623 mothers had an educational level of high school or less.

-- Twenty-four factors were retained in the least absolute shrinkage and selection operator regression analysis and full models adjusted for potential confounding.

-- Associations were noted between child cognitive performance and parental education and breastfeeding; for each increase of 1.0 SD in exposure, positive associations were found with cognitive growth fostering from observed parent-child interactions and maternal reading ability, and negative associations were found with parenting stress.

-- A moderate increase in these beneficial exposures was associated with a notable improvement in estimated cognitive test scores using marginal means.

-- Black children experienced fewer beneficial cognitive performance exposures; in a model including all 24 exposures and covariates, no racial disparity was observed in cognitive performance.

Conclusively, The prospective analysis identified multiple beneficial and modifiable cognitive performance exposures that were associated with mean differences in cognitive performance by race. The findings from this observational study may help guide experimental studies focused on reducing racial disparities in childhood cognitive performance.

Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2770534