Effects of Poverty on Child Development

What Are the Physical Effects of Poverty on Children?

The physical effects of poverty on children are vast and have lasting impacts. Starting before a baby is even born, there are impacts from the womb. “Malnutrition during pregnancy has the potential to lead to later health disparities in children, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Furthermore, mothers experiencing poverty tend to have a diet lacking fruits and vegetables, which provide necessary micronutrients for fetal development.”, says Madison Doser from the American Public Human Services Association.[1] In the poorest of countries, women are often denied medical care and prenatal education.[2]

Starting in the youngest years of a child’s life, poverty can harm a child’s brain and other body systems.[3] Vital nutrients are not always available to children in areas of extreme poverty, causing physical delays and other health issues.

At GFA World, we’re committed to helping alleviate these physical effects of poverty. One of the benefits of our child sponsorship program is that children receive vital assistance such as nutritious food and health checkups. They learn how to wash their hands, brush their teeth and care for their basic health. Parents are educated, too, so they can reinforce these ideas in their homes.

Another way GFA World combats the physical effects on poverty is through helping communities that don’t have sanitation facilities or clean water to drink.

We understand that clean water wells, water filters and toilets help increase the health and well-being of an entire community. When a family has access to these basic necessities, it helps keep the family healthier. For example, when children have clean water readily accessible, they are less likely to get waterborne diseases like cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio.[4] When water is not readily available, people also go without washing their hands, which increases the likelihood of spreading diseases. GFA provides clean water sources and sanitation facilities for entire communities.

As children grow into adolescents, poverty continues to impact their lives. Many teens who are surrounded by poverty find it difficult to dream of a better future. Their lives often replicate their parents’ situations, and the cycle of poverty continues. It often takes an outside force to break that cycle. Through GFA, teens learn income-generating skills and find hope for a future outside of day laboring.

Will you join us in helping curb the physical effects of poverty? The various programs at GFA World can break that poverty cycle and give people lasting hope.

Learn more about the effects of poverty on child development

[1] Doser, Madison. “Pregnancy and poverty: Forging a path forward for families.” APHSA. September 26, 2022. https://aphsa.org/APHSABlog/mhhspp/pregnancy-and-poverty-forging-a-path-forward-for-families.aspx.
[2] “Ten top issues for women’s health.” World Health Organization. February 20, 2015. https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/ten-top-issues-for-women’s-health.
[3] Murphey, David, and Redd, Zakia. “5 Ways poverty harms children.” Child Trends. Accessed July 1, 2023. https://www.childtrends.org/publications/5-ways-poverty-harms-children.
[4] “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.” UNICEF. 2021. https://www.unicef.org/wash.