The Developing Brain

New Orleans Coroner, Dr. Dwight McKenna, has new information about the developing brain.

The brain and nervous system grow at a remarkable rate, achieving about 30% of adult brain weight at birth and 80% by age 2. Expert say this rapid growth necessitates high levels of energy. Nutrition support during these periods can confer lifelong, neuro-developmental benefits, and, if ignored, can increase the risk of poor neurological function into adulthood.

Dr. McKenna points to new research that says prenatal nutrition offers a crucial window of opportunity for intervention. More than 50% of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, creating an important role for preconception health and nutrition counseling. The specific recommendation for women who are pregnant or wish to become pregnant is to consume 2 to 3 servings of a variety fish per week.

While the seafood highest in mercury should be avoided in pregnancy, these fish are not among the most commonly consumed seafoods in the United States. Prenatal vitamins can be thought of as a safety net, for when the diet is lacking in key nutrients required for optimal, fetal growth and development.

Foods like eggs, meat, and seafood, contain many of the nutrients needed for healthy neural development and intake should be encouraged among women of reproductive age
Prenatal nutrition sets the stage for the developing brain with affects that last into adulthood

How can you build a healthy brain? Here are some suggestions:

Eggs, 1-2 eggs per day
Seafood, eat 2 to 3 servings of seafood, like salmon, per week. Include shellfish like oysters and clams.
Meat and poultry, eat one to two servings a day.
Fruits and vegetables, aim for 5-7 cups per day.