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Early Childhood Development|January 27, 2022

Monthly Cash Support to Low-Income Families Impacts Infant Brain Activity

A just-released study from Baby’s First Years shows that an anti-poverty intervention had a direct impact on children’s brain development. After one year, infants of mothers in low-income households receiving $333 in monthly cash support were more likely to show faster brain activity, in a pattern associated with learning and development at later ages. 

The study, published online by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, can be found here. 

Infant brain activity was measured for 435 one-year-old children who were visited in person prior to the pandemic. 

This unprecedented study, showing that economic support changes children’s brain development, speaks to the potential role of anti-poverty policies – including the expanded child tax credits being debated in the U.S. – as important investments in children’s development. 

Baby’s First Years is an ongoing randomized controlled trial of unconditional monthly cash support to 1,000 families living with low income across four diverse metro areas in the United States. It is funded by the National Institutes of Health and private philanthropies. 


Read the press release here 


Highlights from the media, including a front-page article in the New York Times: 

Cash Aid to Poor Mothers Increases Brain Activity in Babies, Study Finds 

Can Giving Parents Cash Help With Babies’ Brain Development? 

When New Orleans Moms in Poverty Got an Extra $333 a Month, Their Children Benefited, Study Says 



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