2020-2021 Pilot Awardee


PI Name: Ece Demir-Lira, PhD

Project Title: Identifying Relationships between Premature Birth, Parental Mental Health, Socioeconomic Status and Language Development in Children from Rural Iowa

Dept/College: Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, University of Iowa

Abstract: Rural children, who represent 12% of all children under the age of 6 in Iowa, are at a greater risk of falling behind in their
neurodevelopment compared to their urban peers. Prior literature examining mechanisms that underlie
neurodevelopmental gaps between children primarily focused on urban populations. This work identified significant
biological (e.g. prematurity) and environmental (e.g. maternal mental health and socioeconomic status) predicting child
outcomes. Little is known about the risk and protective factors predicting outcomes of rural children. The overall
objective of the current proposal is to characterize the relations between gestational age, SES, maternal mental health,
and early language skills in 3- to 5-year-old children living in rural counties of Iowa. Pinpointing aspects of rural children’s
early lives that increase or decrease risk for school readiness will inform early prevention and intervention efforts aimed
at improving rural children’s future life outcomes.