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What Affects Brain Development?

The brain can be affected at any stage in life from in utero to old age. The brain is one of the organs we posses that continues to grow and change. It responds to whatever experience we might encounter, thus anything at any time can either enhance or hinder its development.

As from 20 weeks in the womb, the mother’s diet significantly affects the fetus’ brain development. Any infections that the mother might have, excessive drug use, be they prescription drugs or substances such as cocaine, alcohol and cigarettes all have an impact on fetal brain growth. A pregnant woman must be vigilant about what she ingests, taking care to eat, drink and inhale substances that do not deter the fetus’ brain from reaching its potential.

After birth, the baby’s brain is subject to numerous stimuli which need to be harnessed during the first three years of life as this is the most critical phase when the brain grows and changes rapidly due to new awareness about the environment. Nutrition is most important here, along with continued protection from harmful substances. By two months, development of full vision occurs, so it is important that the baby already be exposed to rich visual stimuli and be checked for eye conditions that may hinder visual brain development. Enriching brain stimuli with gentle, loving, and caring interactions with other people; along with exposure to music, art and speech lead to better brain development.

Brain development in adults is also affected by diet, drug use, tobacco and caffeine and head injuries too.

Featured in Science