Early Brain Development and Health | Child Development | NCBDDD | CDC
A child's brain develops in response to both genes and the environment. for development, it is the experiences and relationships babies and children have every are crucial to brain development and the foundation for learning in later life. Although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first 8 years can build a foundation for future learning, health and life. New research on brain development has profound implications in the areas of child development and education. This review of the research.
Stress and brain development Stress is a feature of the normal development of positive and adaptive coping. Everyday stress responses of a moderate and brief nature can result in mild increases of hormone levels cortisol and short-lived increases in heart rate. Examples of toxic stress include: Ongoing stress factors that are not buffered by caring and positive relationships disrupt brain architecture leading to a lower threshold of activation of the stress management system, which in turn can lead to life long problems in learning, behaviour, and both physical and mental health.
Although manageable levels of stress are normal and growth-promoting, toxic stress in the early years can damage brain development. It is in situations where ongoing stress is likely, that intervening as early as possible is critical to achieving the best possible outcomes for the child.The Science of Brain Development in Early Childhood - The State of Education in Nebraska, #112
Caring and positive relationships are essential to ensure stress levels promote resilience for babies and children. This means the foundation is paramount, as higher level circuits are built on lower level ones. Each newly acquired skill aides in the sequential development of the next.
Attaining the more complex and higher order skills becomes much more difficult when the foundation is shaky. The coat colour and size of these newborn mice correlated with the amount of methylation of the variant agouti gene. The rats exposed to strong licking and grooming by their mothers after birth, lose the methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor gene, leading to good receptor formation in the hippocampus.
The animals with good receptor formation show a better regulated stress pathway and are easy to handle, while the animals with decreased glucocorticoid receptor capacity are easily stressed.
Importance of early childhood development
In these studies, the researchers found that the administration of a compound trichostatin A removed the epigenetic effect and normalized the stress behaviour of the rats. If these and other problems related to development are contributed to by epigenetic effects in early life, can early intervention prevent or easily reverse the processes?
The work of Grantham-McGregor and colleagues has demonstrated that stunted children at birth, if given nutrition and stimulation after birth, can approach the performance of control children after 24 months.
The orphanage studies in Romania show that children placed in middle class homes in Great Britain, Canada and the US who were in the orphanages for eight months or longer had, at 11 years of age, in contrast to the children adopted within four months after birth, abnormal brain development small brainabnormal electroencephalograms EEGs and low metabolic activity.
Some children in the orphanages were randomized to foster parenting in Romania and compared to children left in the orphanages. The mean IQ of the orphanage children was 71; the IQ of children placed in foster care was 81; and for children brought up by their biological parents, the IQ was In the Abecedarian study in North Carolina, African American children at four months of age were randomized into two groups: The special three-year program produced some improvement in the reading and numeracy function of the children not in the preschool program but the effect was small and gradually lost.
The children given the preschool program and the standard school program showed much better school performance but there was some loss of performance by age The children given the preschool program plus the three-year education program showed the biggest gains and this was sustained. We now know that the quality of child development at the time of school entry predicts performance in school programs.
Brain development in children
Countries that provide quality universal early development programs for families with young children tend to out-perform countries in which the early development programs are chaotic. The outstanding improvement in the health status of Cubans in contrast to other Caribbean and Latin American countries may well be related to the quality of the poly-clinic program on early development according to a conversation with A.
It is possible that this program, which began with pregnancy, is also an important reason why the Cubans substantially out-perform the other Latin American countries in the UNESCO studies of language and literacy and numeracy in grades 3 and 6. We now know that nurture in early life as well as nature is important in early human development and that nurture in the early years has major effects on learning in school and physical and mental health throughout the life cycle.
Early years study 2: Putting science into action.
Brain development in children
Council for Early Child Development; Gilbert SF, Epel D. Epigenetics and the nervous system. Annals of Neurology ;64 6: The social environment and the epigenome. Molecular Cell ;35 6: Effect of in utero and early life conditions on adult health and disease.
New England Journal of Medicine ; 1: Developmental Psychology ;40 2: Mill J, Petronis A. Pre- and peri-natal environmental risks for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD: The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry ;49