The Importance of Nutrition in Early Childhood Development

Introduction

Nutrition and Early Brain Development
The authors of two recent papers, the first reporting a review and the second a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, concluded that EFA-containing formula does not affect general neurobehavioral development in full-term infants. Daily supplementation with iron plus folic acid, zinc, and their combination is not associated with younger age at first walking unassisted in malnourished preschool children from a deficient population in rural Nepal. What are the current issues regarding nutrition and cognitive abilities of children in especially in Africa, as it seems this continent has not seen much of Iron-fortified vs low-iron infant formula: Research has proven this true. In addition to nutrient repletion, enhanced sensory, linguistic, and social interactions may also facilitate recovery.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Nutrition and brain development in early life

C hildren can be picky eaters. T he relationship between nutrition, health and learning is undeniably strong: As genes and environment are the other two factors, eating a certain food cannot guarantee that your child will be smarter, although my mother did successfully teach trick? Under-nutrition during pregnancy stunts foetal growth and can lead to poor brain development that result in irreversible chronic illnesses.

Is it really that important for children to be consuming all of the above nutrients though? The benefits of good nutrition to health are endless, but the following few conclusions made by researchers serve to prove my point. Firstly, breastfeeding by mothers following nutritious diets leads to fewer and less severe cases among their children of illnesses including diarrhoea, ear infection and bacterial meningitis.

This is because better-nourished children have an enhanced natural ability to fight infection. However, too much iron also presents problems. I t seems bizarre to think that what your child consumes at, say, 4 months will affect their learning ability years later.

Research has proven this true. For instance, breastfeeding appears to lead to higher IQ, while iron deficiency correlates with reduced cognition and achievement at school age. More obviously to the layman, since under-nourished children get sick more often, they miss more school and fail to keep up with peers.

Research has made the link even clearer: When your child starts to form likes and dislikes, my advice to you is to accept preferences but continue to introduce new foods by making silly faces and playing peek-a-boo until you hear that giggle and see your toddler happily putting the spoon into their mouth themselves.

Food insecurity is not the same as hunger. Food-insecure families are often able to avoid hunger by choosing cheaper, more filling types of food over more costly nutritious foods. For young children, the result is often a diet that provides inadequate nutrients for normal growth and development.

Food insecurity has been linked to nutrient deficiencies that lead to learning and development problems, especially among infants and toddlers. Long-term effects include low achievement in school, emotional problems, and poor health. Children in food-insecure homes are actually more likely than other children to be overweight. This is often called the hunger-obesity paradox. This pattern appears early in life.

Parents facing a shortage of food may encourage their children to eat cheaper, more energy-dense foods. Families may develop a tendency to overeat during periods when food is plentiful. Nutritional shortages during pregnancy and in the early years of life may promote obesity by causing metabolic changes in how energy is used and stored. Irregular eating patterns can disrupt brain networks involved in energy regulation and hunger signals.

Food insecurity is not restricted to families in poverty. Nationally, about 40 percent of poor families are food-insecure, but many poor families avoid food insecurity through the assistance of safety net programs, charitable organizations, and other resources not included in the federal poverty measure.

At the same time, many food-insecure families have incomes well above the poverty line. Low-income families—families with incomes above poverty but below percent of the poverty line—face many of the same difficulties that poor families face, including food insecurity. Moreover, their higher incomes may make them ineligible for many forms of assistance that are available to families in poverty.

Children in food-insecure families are likely to have unhealthy diets and inconsistent eating habits, placing them at risk for cognitive impairment, obesity, and other long-term problems. Effects of prenatal protein malnutrition on the hippocampal formation. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. Household food insecurity is a risk factor for iron-deficiency anaemia in a multi-ethnic, low-income sample of infants and toddlers.

Understanding the role of nutrition in the brain and behavioral development of toddlers and preschool children: Nutrition and the developing brain: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Development and validity of a 2-item screen to identify families at risk for food insecurity. Family food insufficiency is related to overweight among preschoolers.

You Might Also Like