The Island of Kauai

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On the Hawaiian island of Kauai, Emmy Werner and researchers conducted a longitudal study, which consists of two chief objectives. They first sought to "evaluate the long-term consequences of prenatal and perinatal stress, and second, to document the effects of adverse early rearing conditions on children's physical, cognitive and psychosocial development." This study will help researchers to understand how our "early environment" plays a role on our developmental outcome in life. Researchers also sought to determine how many children could actually look forward to living in a stable environment. Researchers need this information to possibly identify solutions that could encompass any positive long-lasting effects. This research was conducted to examine the development of 698 children, from birth to the age of 18 and at 31 or 32, born in 1955, over a period of three decades. Some children manage therefore to triumph over physical disadvantages and deprived childhoods.

The experiment first began in 1954. Between 1954 and 1956, 2,203 women had been reported pregnant. These women came from both well suited and troubling backgrounds. Out of these pregnancies, there were 240 fetal deaths and 1,956 live births. Some of the born babies showed no signs of complications and came from these well suited backgrounds. The "high risk" children, despite being exposed to reproductive stress, coming from poor homes and uneducated, alcoholic or mentally troubled parents, these children have developed lives like ordinary people. A variety of cultural influences were taken into account, since the population comprises an ethnic mixture including individuals not only of Hawaiian descent, but also of Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and northern European descent whose families emigrated. For pregnant women, public health officials made sure the pregnancies went without complications and for the young children, teachers' evaluated academic progress and...
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