Early-life nutrition and neurodevelopment

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Adequate nutrition in the prenatal and early postnatal years is critical for brain development and achievement of full developmental potential. Unlike other environmental components of brain development, nutrition is modifiable, and thus represents a promising intervention point for programs and policies aimed at optimizing early-life brain growth and development. Accumulating evidence demonstrates that early-life status of several key nutrients is essential for brain outcomes across the lifespan. This long-lasting effect of early-life nutrition is explained by multiple, non-mutually exclusive mechanisms that have been demonstrated in preclinical models. The major ones include altered brain structure and epigenetic modification of critical structural and functional genes that can have life-long impact if the nutritional deficiency coincides with a period of peak brain growth. This chapter presents the clinical and preclinical evidence for several nutrients essential for brain development, with a focus on epigenetic mechanisms recently elucidated in preclinical models that may help to explain why nutritional deficiencies in early life can have consequences well into adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEarly Nutrition and Long-Term Health
Subtitle of host publicationMechanisms, Consequences, and Opportunities, Second Edition
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9780128243893
ISBN (Print)9780128244050
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Brain development
  • Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
  • DNA methylation
  • Epigenetics
  • Fetus
  • Histones
  • Infant
  • Neonate
  • Nutrition
  • Pregnancy


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