3 Factors that influence child neurodevelopment
There are three main factors that influence childhood neurodevelopment
Bond of affection and adequate stimulation within a protective environment
How does brain development occur in the first thousand days?
Approximately 22 days after conception, the formation of the human brain begins. The neural plate begins to fold inward forming the neural tube which later becomes the brain and spinal cord. Already from that early start, nutrients such as folic acid, copper and vitamin A are essential for the baby.
Seven weeks after conception (2 months), cell division begins within the neural tube, creating nerve cells (neurons) and glial cells (cells that support neurons).
After a neuron is created, it migrates (moves) to its place in the brain, where it then grows into extensions (like twigs and roots) called axons and dendrites. These branched projections are responsible for making connections with other cells, this is called the synapse, and it is through these connections that nerve signals travel from one neuron to another.
Scientific studies have revealed that about half of all cells produced in the brain are subsequently eliminated throughout childhood and adolescence, as are the junctions between neurons (synapses) that are also initially overproduced. and then they are selectively eliminated.
Part of this process of perfecting the nervous pathways depends on the baby's experiences, the affection and stimulation provided by his parents, caregivers and the environment in general. It is very important that as parents and caregivers we know that the cells and connections that Activated through these interactions are preserved and strengthened, while unused pathways and connections are eliminated. This is known as “brain plasticity” and is believed to be one of the main mechanisms that allows the brain to organize itself to adapt to its environment and to reorganize itself to recover from injuries during development.
Genetics is the study of heredity, the process in which parents pass certain genes to their children.
A person's appearance (height, hair, skin and eye color) is determined by genes. Other characteristics affected by inheritance are:
Probability of presenting certain diseases
Personal traits and mental abilities
From neuroscience it is stated that the weight of genetics on personal traits, such as intelligence, sociability or a taste for novelty, contributes 40% to the personality of the adult, leaving the greatest burden of the process on the environment and nutrition.
Bond of affection and stimulation
All children need loving and sensitive care to reach their maximum developmental potential, this is essential for healthy growth and development. The period from gestation to 2 years of age is decisive, because during this period, the brain is more sensitive to external influences.
It is for these reasons that the WHO and UNICEF have launched the guidelines for nurturing care as it not only promotes physical, emotional, social and cognitive development, but also protects young children from the worst effects of adversity (malnutrition). , hunger, violence, neglect and abandonment). Producing benefits that extend throughout life and to the next generation, both in health and in productivity and social cohesion.
Nurturing care includes young children's needs for good health, optimal nutrition, safety and security, opportunities for early learning, and responsive care.
Parents, families, and other primary caregivers are primarily responsible for providing this care; safe, stable, and nurturing relationships between parents build the foundation of a healthy brain.
Nutrition and neurodevelopment
Scientific evidence generated in brain formation research models clearly shows that many nutrients are necessary for brain development, specifically in 5 processes that are key to neurodevelopment:
Proliferation of neurons (multiplication)
Growth of axons and dendrites (branching of neurons)
Formation of synapses (connection between them) then pruning and functioning of these.
Myelination (covering of nerve pathways to transmit signals)
Neuronal apoptosis (programmed cell death).
It is very important that all nutrients are adequate, balanced, administered at the right time, but it is of no use to provide the best nutrition to children if they do not have a secure and adequate bond of affection along with strong emotional support. in his family and in the midst of a protective environment.
The developing human brain requires proteins, glucose, essential fatty acids and micronutrients to achieve optimal development.
The first and best food with the optimal proportion of these nutrients is called “Human Milk” produced by the human mother specifically to cover all these physiological needs in her baby. When introducing complementary foods, it is key to start with foods rich in iron, zinc, and proteins of high biological value, choline, vitamin B6 and essential fatty acids such as eggs and fish, for example, accompanied by fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants and vitamins.
Nutrient-rich foods, adequate stimulation and a strong love bond are the secret recipe to enhance your baby's neurodevelopment and key life skills.