Infancy and early childhood (ie, birth through age 24 months) represent a period of life with both exquisite opportunity and vulnerability for neurodevelopment. This is due to rapid brain development, both anatomic and functional, as well as to high nutrient requirements during a time of dependence on human milk and complementary foods. Complex interactions exist among nutrition, social, and physical environments and exposures. The newborn brain also reflects maternal exposures that occurred as the product of many interacting forces during gestation. Connections between nutrient use and acute and chronic inflammation are increasingly recognized, but the evidence base linking both nutrition and inflammation to neurodevelopment is relatively modest and quite limited for this young age group specifically. This article provides an overview of key interactions of nutritional requirements relevant to brain development and function; nutritional vulnerabilities related to maternal nutritional status and function; and the impact of environmental exposures and inflammation on nutrient homeostasis and neurodevelopment during this critical developmental window.
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This supplement was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.