CogniFit's Science blog: New Brain Research Identifies The Cost Of Child Abuse

New Brain Research Identifies The Cost Of Child Abuse

Over three million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States. Sadly, often times multiple kids are involved in the same report with an estimated six million children being abused yearly.

New brain research now identifies the horrific cost of child abuse on the mind.

A recent study identified that abuse to children can lead to permanent changes in a seahorse-shaped area of the brain. Harvard researchers say this ultimately can cause adult depression and drug abuse, but the study may lead to possible new treatments.

In the study, researchers scanned the brains of adults in the age range of 22 years-old who showed differences in a part of the brain where neurons are generated. What they found is that people who had been exposed to childhood abuse have a less-dense hippocampus.

The hope behind this new brain research is that more treatments will become available because the brain is still growing throughout early adulthood. If the abuse is reported and children are treated soon enough, impairments and damage can be properly repaired to eliminate the potential onset of depression or drug abuse.

It is known that the hippocampus is less active within people who are depressed or schizophrenic. With drugs like antidepressants and anticonvulsants along with exercise forming new neurons, there is hope. The neurons can decrease the risk of adult illnesses over time thus nullifying the horrific experience as a child.

While this brain research is terrific news for the victims, it is just as great for society as well considering the amount of money that could be saved. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the cost associated with one year of child abuse is around $124 billion. Each person will face around $210,000 added cost over a lifetime because of the events that took place.

With proper treatment early enough in one’s development, many costs can be avoided over a lifetime. This can save society, hospitals and each victim the pain of undergoing continuous treatments, falling to drugs and having to be treated for depression.

Child abuse is a horrific crime that goes on every day in the sometimes cruel world we live in. It is a crime that is acted on an innocent, young person who is defenseless. With the latest brain research from researchers at Harvard, there is hope that the long-term effects can be smoothed with development, canceling out some of the permanent damage.