87m children live in conflict zones, says UNICEF

hungry-child-300x200More than 86.7 million children under the age of seven have spent their entire lives in conflict zones, putting their brain development at risk, UNICEF said yesterday.

During the first seven years of life a child’s brain has the potential to activate 1,000 brain cells every second. Each one of those cells, known as neurons, has the power to connect to another 10,000 neurons thousands of times per second. Brain connections serve as the building blocks of a child’s future, defining their health, emotional well being and ability to learn.

According to a press statement, children living in conflict are often exposed to extreme trauma, putting them at risk of living in a state of toxic stress, a condition that inhibits brain cell connections — with significant life-long consequences to their cognitive, social and physical development.

According to UNICEF Chief of Early Child Development Pia Britto: “In addition to the immediate physical threats that children in crises face, they are also at risk of deep-rooted emotional scars.”

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