Poor nutrition can have a significant impact on the physical, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive development of infants and young children. Although food insecurity does not occur to the same degree in the United States as in developing nations, the diets of many pregnant women and young children lack sufficient amounts of specific nutrients to support optimal functioning.1 Although all nutrients are required to support neurodevelopment, research studies in animal models and human populations show that certain nutrients are particularly important during the first years of life to support rapidly developing brain systems. The neurodevelopmental effects of a given nutrient are based on that nutrient’s metabolic role in regional brain development, the timing of the deficiency, and the degree and duration of the deficiency.2,3 Depending on the metabolic pathways and the structural components in which a nutrient is involved in the central nervous system (CNS), neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, and/or neurochemistry may be disrupted, each of which will result in altered neuronal function. Neuroanatomical changes include effects on cell proliferation, as well as cell differentiation, including synaptogenesis and dendritic arborization.4,5 Neurophysiological changes often affect signal propagation or changes in metabolism, while neurochemical changes involve neurotransmitter and receptor synthesis.6,7 These CNS changes may be region specific rather than global, as there is often regional sensitivity to a given deficiency.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Micronutrients and Brain Health|
|Number of pages||23|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2009|