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Diet For Brain Development, From The Beginning

Date:
November 30, 2007
Source:
US Department of Agriculture
Summary:
Studies looking into how diet and nutrition affect central nervous system development from birth are now being conducted. Scientists are using noninvasive tools to assess infant, toddler and school-aged children's psychological, neurological and physiological development, as well as other brain-related functions.

While mother looks on, nutritionist weighs baby boy for long-term ARS study of developmental effects of three different infant formulas.
Credit: Photo by Stephen Ausmus

Studies looking into how diet and nutrition affect central nervous system development from birth are being conducted by Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-funded scientists. They are using noninvasive tools to assess infant, toddler and school-aged children's psychological, neurological and physiological development, as well as other brain-related functions.

Healthy newborns soak up information from their surroundings while their developing brains sprout billions of nerve cell connections, or synapses. The brain's "hardwiring" actually starts in the womb, directed by the growing fetus' genetic game plan acquired from both parents. Good nutrition is key to supporting the growth of this network of neurons from the beginning.

ARS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency, is funding research at the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC), which is managed cooperatively by ARS and the Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, Ark.

Among other projects, Terry Pivik, a psychophysiologist who heads the ACNC's Brain Function Laboratory, and Janet Gilchrist, who heads the ACNC's Clinical Nutrition Unit, are interested in defining best feeding practices for brain development among infants and children.

For a project called The Beginnings Study, researchers are using measures of brain activity, behavior and growth to study hundreds of infants who have been reared exclusively on one of the three most commonly fed infant diets: breast milk, cow's milk formula or soy-based formula.

So far, preliminary results indicate that there are slight cognitive and language advantages among the breast-fed infants at 6 and 12 months, compared with infants in the two formula-fed groups. The researchers caution that these differences will require further evaluation in the context of other contributory factors. The study will continue for several more years.

Brain development continues throughout early childhood and is now believed to undergo a second wave of dramatic functional changes during adolescence, according to experts.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by US Department of Agriculture. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

US Department of Agriculture. "Diet For Brain Development, From The Beginning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071126152503.htm>.
US Department of Agriculture. (2007, November 30). Diet For Brain Development, From The Beginning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071126152503.htm
US Department of Agriculture. "Diet For Brain Development, From The Beginning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071126152503.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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