Good Nutrition Could Protect Children from Cognitive Difficulties Caused by Early-Life Stress

Good nutrition in early life may protect against stress-induced changes in brain development in young mice, according to data presented at the Society for Endocrinology 2018 Annual Conference in Glasgow (November 19-21). The study findings suggests that a nutrient-rich diet may have protective effects on brain development in young mice exposed to early-life stress, which reduces their risk of learning and memory issues in later life. It has been reported, in humans and animals, that exposure to adversities, such as stress, in early life can have long-lasting effects on brain function, and may lead to cognitive problems in later life. The period just after birth is critical for brain development and demand for nutrients is high, both for energy and as essential building blocks for the developing brain. Therefore any deficit in essential nutrients during this time could result in long-lasting abnormalities in brain function, including learning processes. The stress and metabolic processes of the body are closely interlinked, and whether stress-related cognitive problems in early life can be prevented or even reversed by ensuring good nutrition has not been fully investigated. In this study, Dr. Aniko Korosi and colleagues from the University of Amsterdam, investigated the effects of essential nutrients on brain function using a mouse model of early-life stress. Early-life stress was mimicked by reducing the amount of maternal care and attention given to pups within the first 2 weeks of birth. By the age of 4 months, these neglected mice show several impairments, including increased body fat levels, high stress hormone levels, and poor performance in learning and memory tasks.
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