Science tells us that good nutrition in the first 1,000 days (pre-birth through age two) is key. That’s the time when the brain develops most rapidly and robustly, when the immune system is bolstered, when the foundation of physical growth is laid. Scientific findings even show that a person’s lifelong health — including predisposition to obesity and certain chronic diseases — are largely determined during the first 1000 days. It’s a time that has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive.
The fetal nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, begins to develop 16 days after conception. It is well documented that exposure to alcohol in utero can cause face and brain abnormalities and intellectual disabilities. Stress and smoking have been identified as affecting birth weight and head circumference, indicating an effect on brain development. Yet during pregnancy, eating-for-two doesn’t always result in eating what’s good for mom and best for baby.
The brain grows at an amazing rate during development. As many as 250,000 neurons are added every minute in utero! At birth, an individual’s brain will have almost all the neurons that it will ever have. The brain continues to grow for a few years after a baby is born, and by three years of age the brain is about 80% developed.
For an infant, the brain completes vision, speech and emotional development, plus math/logic development before the age of three.