How You Can Support Your Babys Brain
Every mother wants to give her baby the best possible start in life. But sometimes it can be difficult to know what to do, especially with so much advice floating around in books, magazines and on the Internet. Just listen to your doctors and follow their advice and you should be fine. Most likely, they will suggest these simple tips to keep both you and your baby healthy.
Stages Of Prenatal Brain Development
From the time the neural tube closes, around week 7, the brain will grow at a rate of 250,000 neurons per minute for the next 21 weeks. Ultrasounds can reveal the embryo moving as early as 6 weeks after conception , detecting the electrical impulses that govern movement and indicating that the brain is beginning to function.
S Of Your Babys Brain
Around week 5, your babys brain, spinal cord, and heart begin to develop. Your babys brain is part of the central nervous system, which also houses the spinal cord. There are three key components of a babys brain to consider. These include:
- Cerebrum: Thinking, remembering, and feeling occurs in this part of the brain.
- Cerebellum: This part of the brain is responsible for motor control, which allows the baby to move their arms and legs, among other things.
- Brain stem: Keeping the body alive is the primary role of the brain stem. This includes breathing, heartbeat, and blood pressure.
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Your Childs Brain Development: Age One
Have you ever wondered why your toddler isnt responding to you with what you believe should be a normal reaction? Or you cant understand why your baby keeps opening and shutting the closet door over and over again?
Humans are one of the few species on earth born unfinished. At birth, our brains are nowhere near fully developed, and in fact, the human brain develops quite slowly over time. New technology such as CAT scans, MRIs and PET scans all indicate that your brain is still developing into late adolescence. Therefore, the way your baby and toddler thinks is colored by his stage of development. At first, your baby will view the world in concrete terms. The way he reasons and responds is directly correlated to this particular stage. For this reason, it is important to take your childs development into consideration when speaking with your child and when placing behavioral expectations on him.
Your infants brain is born into the world with approximately 86 billion neurons; while this sounds like a lot, it is actually about half of what it will have by the end of your babys first year. At age two or three, the brain has up to twice as many connections as it will have in adulthood; the reason, is that as we grow older, our brains perform a sort of use it or lose it function: effectively pruning unused connections over the years.
Your Babys Brain: Age 1
Social and Cognitive Learning
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At What Age Is The Brain Fully Developed
It is widely debated as to which age the brain is considered fully mature or developed. In the past, many experts believed that the brain may have been done developing in the mid to late teens. Then along came some evidence to suggest that development may last until at least age 20. These days, a consensus of neuroscientists agree that brain development likely persists until at least the mid-20s possibly until the 30s.
The fact that our brains arent developed until the mid 20s means that legal adults are allowed to make adult decisions, without fully mature brains. ;Someone who is 18 may make riskier decisions than someone in their mid-20s in part due to lack of experience, but;primarily due to an underdeveloped brain. ;All behaviors and experiences you endure until the age of 25 have potential to impact your developing brain.
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What Develops In The Second Trimester
During the second trimester, Gaither says the brain begins to take command of bodily functions. This includes specific movements that come from the hindbrain, and more specifically, the cerebellum.
One of the first notable developments, sucking and swallowing, are detectable around 16 weeks. Fast-forward to 21 weeks, and Gaither says baby can swallow amniotic fluid.
Its also during the second trimester that breathing movements begin as directed by the developing central nervous system. Experts call this practice breathing since the brain is directing the diaphragm and chest muscles to contract.
And dont be surprised if you feel some kicking during this trimester. Remember the cerebellum or the part of the brain responsible for motor control? Well, its directing the babys movements, including kicking and stretching.
Gaither points out that a fetus can begin to hear during the late second trimester, and a sleep pattern emerges as the brainwaves from the developing hypothalamus become more mature.
The Formation Of Synapses And Regions
After migration, the tendency of recently arrived neurons to cluster with similar cells into distinct regions determines the form and ultimately the function of each part of the brain. At the upper and outer surface, the cortical sheet becomes continuous at this stage and begins to compress into its characteristic folds and creases, as more cells from the proliferative units continue to add surface area to an already crowded space. The various types of cells also finish differentiating, so that each type has the biochemical properties, receptor sites, and other features appropriate to its region and layer. The cell body of the neuron grows longer and extends its axon and it also puts forth numerous branching dendrites .
The process of aggregation is highly ordered. Cells of the same type recognize one another and draw together; in many populations of neurons, cells may even arrange themselves with the same orientation. Additionally, in at least some contexts, axons tend to grow in bundles, or “fasciculations,” closely associated with one another; they dissociate somewhat as they approach their target neurons, which suggests that there may be some form of recognition molecules, and possibly adhesion molecules as well, along the surface of axons.
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The Organization Of A Childs Brain Is Affected By Early Experiences
Why would the brain create more synapses than it needs, only to discard the extras? The answer lies in the interplay of genetic and environmental factors in brain development.
The early stages of development are strongly affected by genetic factors; for example, genes direct newly formed neurons to their correct locations in the brain and play a role in how they interact.12,13 However, although they arrange the basic wiring of the brain, genes do not design the brain completely.14,15
Instead, genes allow the brain to fine-tune itself according to the input it receives from the environment. A childs senses report to the brain about her environment and experiences, and this input stimulates neural activity. Speech sounds, for example, stimulate activity in language-related brain regions. If the amount of input increases synapses between neurons in that area will be activated more often.
Repeated use strengthens a synapse. Synapses that are rarely used remain weak and are more likely to be eliminated in the pruning process. Synapse strength contributes to the connectivity and efficiency of the networks that support learning, memory, and other cognitive abilities.16,17 Therefore, a childs experiences not only determine what information enters her brain, but also influence how her brain processes information.
Are Girl And Boy Pregnancy Different
Three weeks into pregnancy, women carrying girls exhibited hormone levels 18.5 percent higher than those of their boy-carrying counterparts, regardless of factors such as previous pregnancies or maternal age. Finding this gender-related difference so early in pregnancy may help explain how it occurs.
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Migration To The Cerebral Cortex
The mammalian brain develops from the core outward. Long before the recognizably wrinkled surface of the cerebral cortex appears, the hollow, fluid-filled ventricles are present. These serve both as a connection back to the spinal cord and as the site of origin for the new elements that will ultimately be assembled into the outermost surface of the brain, the cerebral cortex. Thus, in the course of development, the neurons and supporting glial cells of the cortex must somehow make their way there from the ventricular zone. This stage has been described as a massive migration of cells, and the distances involved are enormous, at least from the point of view of a single cell: some may travel as much as several millimeters to their eventual destination in the cortex.
One other striking aspect of neuronal migration is the order in which the six layers of the cortex are built up: from the innermost to the outermost. Each migrating neuron, before arriving at its own predetermined site in the cortex, must travel outward through all the neurons that have migrated and settled in the cortex before it. As a result, each layer of the cortex, as it builds up, has the opportunity to carry an accretion of information from nearby cells that have preceded itinformation that may help to lay the groundwork for the next developmental stage.
When Is A Fetus Considered A Baby Scientifically
Lets clear up some terminology.
From a cultural, personal, and emotional point of view, most parents-to-be will talk about the baby in the mamas uterus. The words embryo and fetus are ones we read in pregnancy books. But, to discuss fetal development, your future baby is technically an embryo after the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall and starts growing into a separate placenta and baby. After the 10th week of pregnancy, doctors refer to the baby as a fetus until its born.
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The Parts Of A Babys Brain
Your babys brain will grow five main parts, each responsible for a different aspect of directing the body and the mind and decision making:
- The cerebrum is responsible for thinking, feeling, and memory. Its the largest part of the brain and contains the cerebral cortex and the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.
- The cerebellum is responsible for directing the bodys motor control, from moving arms and legs to the fine motor skills of pinching and grasping.
- The brain stem controls the vital functions that keep the body alive. These are mainly involuntary systems like heartbeat, blood pressure, and breathing. It also controls the digestive process, although hunger cues come from elsewhere.
- The pituitary gland is in charge of releasing most of the hormones in the body that direct the metabolism, ovulation, growth, and more.
- The hypothalamus regulates body temperature, hunger and thirst cues, sleep, and emotions.
Ultrasounds during your pregnancy will allow your doctor to monitor brain development and make sure each part is growing according to schedule.;
The Importance Of Early Childhood Experiences For Brain Development
Children are born ready to learn, and have many skills to learn over many years. They depend on parents, family members, and other caregivers as their first teachers to develop the right skills to become independent and lead healthy and successful lives. How the brain grows is strongly affected by the childs experiences with other people and the world. Nurturing care for the mind is critical for brain growth. Children grow and learn best in a safe environment where they are protected from neglect and from extreme or chronic stressexternal icon with plenty of opportunities to play and explore.
Parents and other caregivers can support healthy brain growth by speaking to, playing with, and caring for their child. Children learn best when parents take turns when talking and playing, and build on their childs skills and interests. Nurturing a child by understanding their needs and responding sensitively helps to protect childrens brains from stress. Speaking with children and exposing them to books, stories, and songs helps strengthen childrens language and communication, which puts them on a path towards learning and succeeding in school.
When children are at risk, tracking childrens development and making sure they reach developmental milestones can help ensure that any problems are detected early and children can receive the intervention they may need.
Learn more about supporting early childhood experiences:
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The Black Box Of Brain Development
Human brain development starts soon after conception and continues into early adulthood. The fetal brain begins to develop during the third week of gestation. Neural progenitor cells begin to divide and differentiate into neurons and glia, the two cell types that form the basis of the nervous system.
A large body of animal and epidemiological research suggests that prenatal exposures to harmful environmental stimuli, such as maternal stress or toxic agents, may alter the developmental trajectory of the fetal brain. However, until recently, prenatal neurodevelopment was a black box.
Which Trimester Is The Most Critical
The first trimester is the most critical time in your pregnancy. Although the fetus at the end of three months is only about 4 inches long and weighs less than 1 ounce, all of its functions have begun to form major organs and nervous system, heartbeat, arms, fingers, legs, toes, hair, and buds for future teeth.
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How Can I Improve My Babys Brain During Pregnancy
To encourage healthy fetus development, you should take care of your body first. This includes lifestyle changes such as:
- Avoiding alcohol
- Getting regular exercise
- Quitting smoking
- Saying no to recreational drugs
You can also encourage healthy development by taking vitamins such as folic acid. Stay out of hot tubs, which may raise your temperature and could pose harm to your baby during the essential first trimester.
With a few lifestyle changes, you should be on your way to developing your own little genius. So, what are the fetal brain development stages?
What Genes Are Related To Anencephaly
Anencephaly is a complex condition that is likely caused by the interaction of multiple genetic and environmental factors. Some of these factors have been identified, but many remain unknown.
Changes in dozens of genes may influence the risk of anencephaly. The best-studied of these genes is MTHFR, which provides instructions for making a protein that is involved in processing the B-vitamin folate . Changes in other genes related to folate processing and genes involved in the development of the neural tube have also been studied as potential risk factors for anencephaly. However, none of these genes appear to play a major role in causing the condition.
Researchers have also examined environmental factors that could contribute to the risk of anencephaly. A shortage of folate appears to play a significant role. Studies have shown that women who take supplements containing this vitamin before they get pregnant and very early in their pregnancy are significantly less likely to have a baby with anencephaly or a related neural tube defect. Other possible risk factors for anencephaly include diabetes mellitus, obesity, exposure to high heat in early pregnancy, and the use of certain anti-seizure medications during pregnancy. However, it is unclear how these factors may influence the risk of anencephaly.
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Why Are The First 3 Years Of Life So Important
Recent research confirms that the first five years are particularly important for the development of the child’s brain, and the first three years are the most critical in shaping the child’s brain architecture. … They have a direct impact on how children develop learning skills as well as social and emotional abilities.
When Does A Fetus Develop A Brain Function To Power The Entire Body
So, how do these brain areas affect your babys general development? By the first trimester, your babys brain is relatively light, and will be connecting with neurons, which will help the baby to learn movement.
By the second trimester, the brain becomes responsible for breathing, swallowing, and sucking. These are all affected by the cerebellum. When the third trimester comes around, the brain will undergo a huge growth spurt, weighing in at around 11 ounces. This is when motor control comes into play, so expect to feel more finger and toe wiggling, as well as stretching and kicking.
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The Importance Of Brain Development In Early Childhood
Neuroplasticity and epigenesis are two major cornerstones in understanding a childs neurological and brain development in the early years.
While we dont need to be perfect parents , good enough parenting can do a child tremendous good.
In particular, among;the different parenting styles,; is the best parenting style associated with the best outcome. Adverse childhood experiences, on the other hand, can lead to a devastating consequence.
Early childhood education is also important to a childs cognitive growth. Finding good childhood care providers and choosing a quality preschool for your child can benefit their development in the long term.
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Early Brain Development In Children
Neuroscience;research has shown us that early childhood is a time of tremendous brain development. The young brain literally changes shape and size in response to everything encountered in this early period of development. New environment, life experiences, caretakers and relationships can all affect the way complex brain circuits are wired.
Find out how to help your childs brain develop optimally.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Congenital Brain Defects
Symptoms of congenital brain defects vary. Each defect has a distinct set of symptoms and impairments.
Some of these symptoms may not be apparent until after birth when your child exhibits developmental or growth delays. Some congenital brain defects dont have symptoms until adulthood. Some never have symptoms at all.
Children born with congenital brain defects also may have:
- cardiovascular disorders