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October 2014

Neglected Infections of Poverty in the United States and Their Effects on the Brain

Author Affiliations
  • 1National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
  • 2Sabin Vaccine Institute, Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, Houston
  • 3Department of Biology, Baylor University, Waco, Texas

Copyright 2014 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.

JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(10):1099-1100. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.1045

A group of neglected infections are emerging as important causes of psychiatric and mental illness among vulnerable populations living in extreme poverty in the United States. These chronic infections may partially account for the achievement gap noted among socioeconomically disadvantaged students.

The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of chronic parasitic and related infections that can last decades or even the lifetime of an individual. During this time, they produce long-lasting and debilitating effects that impair productive capacity and child development. Indeed, the NTDs have actually been shown to trap people in poverty through these adverse effects.