Harvard Medicine

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Bringing Home Baby

Setting is critical for infants raised outside their birth families.

Photo by Amanda Rohde<br/>iStockphoto.com Placing infants with foster families rather than in institutions provides them with long-term cognitive benefits. When a research team from Harvard Medical School, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Minnesota compared cognitive development in eight- and nine-year-olds who had been placed in foster care as infants with those raised in their birth families, it found no difference in visual memory and attention and impulse control. Yet same-aged children who had lived in institutions their first year tested lower than either group, despite subsequent years of family life. The study appeared in the January/February 2010 issue of Child Development.

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