Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Childhood disadvantage strongly predicts costly outcomes


Childhood disadvantage strongly predicts costly adult life-course outcomes

A small segment of the population accounts for a disproportionate share of costly service use across a society’s health care, criminal justice, and social welfare systems – and paediatric tests of brain health can identify these adults as young as age three, new findings out of the University of Otago’s Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study suggest.

The Dunedin Study is an internationally renowned research programme that has followed the progress of 1,000 children born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1972-73, from birth to midlife. The latest findings are newly published in the international journal Nature Human Behaviour.

With Study members’ permission, the research team analysed government administrative databases and electronic medical records. The team, which included Dunedin Study Director Professor Richie Poulton, found that nearly 80 per cent of adult economic burden can be attributed to just 20 per cent of the Study members.

The researchers determined that this “high cost” group accounted for 81 per cent of criminal convictions, 66 per cent of welfare benefits, 78 per cent of prescription fills and 40 per cent of excess obese kilograms.

Professor Poulton says that they also found that members of this group can be identified with high accuracy when still young children.

At age three, each Study member took part in a paediatric examination that included a neurological evaluation and assessments of verbal comprehension, language development, motor skills, and social behaviour. Looking back at the test results, the team found that scoring poorly on these tests was a good predictor of going on to be in the “high cost” group.

“We also found that members of this group tended to have grown up in more socioeconomically deprived environments, experienced child maltreatment, scored poorly on childhood IQ tests and exhibited low childhood self-control,” he says.

Professor Poulton says that the strong connection between early-childhood development and costly adult outcomes underscores the need for preventive health and education programmes for children and families.

“Those working in social services have long observed that some individuals use more than their share of services, but this is the first evidence that the same group of individuals feature in multiple service sectors and that they can be identified as young children, with reasonable accuracy,” he says.

In their paper, the researchers write that they “are aware of the potential for misusing these findings, for stigmatising and stereotyping. But there is no merit in blaming a person for economic burden following from childhood disadvantage.”

Instead, tackling the effects of childhood disadvantage through early-years support for families and children could benefit all members of a society by reducing costs.

The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit received funding for the study from the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

NZTA Finds Failures: Urgent Review Of Compliance Files

Phil Twyford said NZTA was failing in its duty to properly check the companies that certify vehicles as safe for the road, and other services. “When problems with these companies were identified, there was often no follow up. More>>

ALSO:

Outages: Vector Settles With ComCom On Reliability Breaches

Vector has agreed a settlement with the Commerce Commission for breaches of its network quality standards in 2015 and 2016. More>>

ALSO:

Hop For A Better Tomorrow: Programme For Unique NZ Hops And Craft Beer

A new joint craft beer and hop breeding programme launched today aims to develop unique super-premium hops for exceptional craft brewers and uniquely New Zealand craft beer for top tier markets. More>>

ALSO:

Stats: Big Quarterly Lift In Retail Card Spending

Quarterly retail card spending in the September 2018 quarter rose at its fastest pace in seven and a half years, Stats NZ said today. The lift was widespread, led by increased grocery and liquor spending, as well as fuel. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: Government Books Show Surplus, Falling Net Debt

A strong surplus and falling net debt reflect a growing economy and show the Coalition Government is managing the books responsibly, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. More>>

ALSO: