PART FIVE: Written Report and Presentation

To what extent does nutrition affect a child’s brain development?

I am setting out to explore the relationship between nutrition and a child’s brain development.

In this complicated process, what is the function of nutrition? Nutrition is an environmental factor because it constitutes access to resources from the environment (i.e. food & water), but unlike other environmental assets such as medical care, education or experience, nutrition can directly alter the gene structure and mediate the expression of genetic factors by offering particular molecules that allow genes to exert their potential or targeted impacts on brain growth and development (Rosales, Reznick, & Zeisel, 2009)1. The brain is a specific tissue in which functionality depends on generating and conducting electrical potentials through lengthy axonal cell-bodies parts and synaptic gaps between these cell-bodies. These particular brain functions are expressed in an increased need for certain nutrients such as choline, folic acid, iron, zinc and special fats (Rosales, Reznick, & Zeisel, 2009)1. In addition, nutrition can directly affect the expression of genes in the brain. Nutrition therefore plays a critical role at the intersection of the biological and nutritional variables that mediate brain growth and development.

The purpose of this research is to investigate the role of nutrition in postnatal brain and behavioral growth that spans infants and pre-school years (1.e., 1-5 years of age), identify significant gaps in our knowledge of these procedures, and provide suggestions on how to fill these gaps (Rosales, Reznick, & Zeisel, 2009)1. This research will concentrate on this age spectrum as it is a time of fast and dramatic brain modifications, i.e. brain plasticity, and it is a time to acquire basic cognitive and interpersonal skills (Rosales, Reznick, & Zeisel, 2009)1. The spoken vocabulary of children improves considerably during this moment; they achieve higher motor coordination and are able to participate in activities for slightly longer periods of time. Furthermore, this age period is marked by a shift from direct maternal control of infant nutrition to indirect maternal control in which babies do not obtain their own nutrition, but start to assert growing autonomy with regard to what they consume (Rosales, Reznick, & Zeisel, 2009)1. The early childhood and pre-school years are usually regarded to be the most challenging stage of life to study due to variables beyond experimental control such as emotional state, motivation, persistence, and instruction understanding.

Review Current Literature

Macro and micro nutrients are essential for normal growth and development and it is more important during pregnancy. Developing your child’s brain requires protein to create neurotransmitters, or more specifically amino acids. The neurotransmitters enable the communication between brain cells. The amino acid tryptophan, for instance, produces the serotonin neurotransmitter that helps your child sleep. The tyrosine amino acid produces norepinephrine that helps keep your baby alert. Children need 9 to 11 grams of protein per day, children need 13 grams of protein per day, and pre-schoolers need about 19 grams per day (Mortensen, 2018)4. A study from India released in 2008, where more than half of kids under the age of 5 are deemed undernourished, discovered that malnourished children experience cognitive developmental delays (Mortensen, 2018)4. There was bad motor skill, language, visual and social development among the kids in this research. They had bad memory and inferior IQs. Calories provide the energy your baby requires to operate correctly with the brain. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 generally require between 1,000 and 1,600 calories depending on their size, gender and level of activity (Mortensen, 2018)4. Monitoring the weight and development of your child will assist you to understand if the baby consumes enough calories. Some vitamins and minerals have an effect on your young child’s brain development. They include iron, zinc, copper, iodine, selenium, choline, vitamin A, and folate (Mortensen, 2018)4. Breast milk and infant formula contain sufficient quantities of these nutrients and very tiny quantities are needed by most young kids; they generally eat enough to satisfy their requirements. An exception might be iron. The Centers for Disease Control claims that 14% of kids between the ages of 1 and 2 in the United States and 4 % of kids between the ages of 3 and 5 suffer from iron deficiency anemia (Mortensen, 2018)4. An article released in the “Journal of Nutrition” evaluated a number of children’s anemia research and discovered that those who were anemic in the younger years had poor cognitive testing performance and had a difficult time to catch up when they joined college. For kids aged 1 to 3, the recommended iron nutritional allowance is 7 milligrams daily. Children between the ages of 4 and 5 need 10 mg a day.

Undernutrition is a significant issue with vulnerable rural kids suffering from delay in development. Nutritional disorders stay the most prevalent insult that affects the nervous system. Around 150 million kids are undernourished globally. This is an alarming amount of our population at danger of creating issues of learning the behavior. Numerous studies have shown significant improvements in undernutrition function of the autonomic nervous system. For example, a study comparing normal and undernourished children in India between the ages of 5 and 10 used tests to evaluate the function of the parasympathetic nervous system (resting heart rate and the ratio between the measurements obtained lying down and standing, as well as during expiratory pressure for 15 seconds—known as the Valsalva ratio), and the function of the sympathetic nervous system (measurement of blood pressure during static practice by means of a test in which he person exerted pressure on a given object with his side for one minute and a test to assess the reaction of the galvanic skin). The findings showed that in the undernourished group the resting heart rate was considerably greater; the experiments to examine the parasympathetic function also proposed that in these kids this was impaired. The examinations intended to evaluate sympathetic activity showed a shift in systolic and diastolic arterial pressure as well as in the reaction of the galvanic skin in undernourished kids, suggesting an increase in sympathetic tone. Children are susceptible to malnutrition due to inadequate nutritional intakes, recurrent infections, absence of adequate care, and irregular distribution of food within the family, especially in rural regions of India.

Poverty and food insecurity impact the growth and instructional results of a child starting in the earliest years of life, both directly and indirectly through procedures of mediation, moderation and transaction. Children are more likely to encounter a variety of behavioral, emotional, and academic issues in food-insecure homes. Poverty and associated health determinants can contribute to negative health results in adolescence and throughout life, negatively influencing physical health, socio-emotional growth, and accomplishment in education. Child poverty also affects genomic function and brain development through toxic stress exposure, a disease defined by excessive or prolonged activation of physiological stress response mechanisms in the lack of buffering protection from stable, responsive interactions.

Methodological Decision Making

The method I have used to conduct field work is observation. I observed three families living in my building. Each family has a child below the age of 6. I asked each of their mothers to record what they are feeding their kid for 3 days. After 3 days they gave me their 3-day logs which I observed. After looking through the 3-day logs I noticed one thing. Seemal being the eldest didn’t eat as much compared to Afsa and Adeera. I have known all the three kids since their birth and from this I have noticed that mentally Seemal is behind for her age. What I mean by this is that she started speaking late, she is 5 and she cannot communicate well, she cannot say full sentences, she missed a year of school and she also cannot use the washroom, she can’t even tell her mom that she has to use the washroom. On the other hand Adeera was only 2 when she started speaking and was more active than seemal, she will most likely start to go to school when she’s 4 years old. Lastly, Afsa being the youngest is the most active out of all three, she eats whatever she finds anything be it junk or healthy, she cannot speak yet she can still communicate what she has to say through actions and she also tries to speak and say words.

I choose to do this method for my field study because I found it to be the most effective and less time consuming. I feel like my field study was successful because looking back at my research question: To what extent does nutrition affect a child’s brain development? Nutrition affects a child’s brain development very much and this was shown through my field study. The two children Afsa and Adeera who were getting proper nutrition and were eating healthy were more active than Seemal who wasn’t eating that healthy.

DAY 1SeemalAfsaAdeera
Breakfast½ Paratha (AKA Roti, Chapati)½ Paratha (AKA Roti, Chapati), 1 feeder of milk½ glass of milk, ½ Paratha (AKA Roti, Chapati)
LunchChips1 slice of bread with jamSandwich
Dinner¾ plate of rice (Biryani)½ Roti, 1 feeder of milkSandwich
DAY 2SeemalAfsaAdeera
Breakfast½ Paratha (AKA Roti, Chapati)1 Paratha (AKA Roti, Chapati), 1 feeder of milk½ glass of milk, ½ Paratha (AKA Roti, Chapati)
SnackChipsBanana1 Apple
LunchChips½ Roti1 plate of rice
Dinner¾ plate of rice (Biryani)1 feeder of milkSandwich
DAY 3SeemalAfsaAdeera
Breakfast½ Paratha (AKA Roti, Chapati)1 Paratha (AKA Roti, Chapati), 1 feeder of milk½ glass of milk, ½ Paratha (AKA Roti, Chapati)
SnackChipsA little bit of watermelon and about 5 grapesbanana
Lunch1 plate of rice (Biryani)1 feeder of milk1 plate of rice
Dinner1 Aero chocolate bar½ roti, 1 feeder of milk½ roti


My findings are important to those who study food and nutrition because it discusses all the elements and relationships between nutrition and a child’s brain development. It discusses to what extent nutrition affects a child’s brain development.


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