Myelination of axons is an indicator of brain structural maturation, and myelin imaging has become a viable means of monitoring brain development in early infant life. The impact of nutrient intake on myelin development has been investigated previously, however, the work did not capture the longitudinal interactions between nutrients and myelin formation during infancy. A study by Schneider and colleagues reported in the March 2023 issue of The Journal of Nutrition explores this relationship.
One brain imaging scan per child was performed and intake data for 88 nutrients were determined for 293 healthy and typically developing children in a longitudinal US cohort (127 female, 62% white). Image processing determined age windows with unique association profiles.
Three age windows were identified by the analyses, which included one from 6-20 months (60% positive nutrient correlations), one from 20-30 months (20% positive correlations), and one from 30-60 months (37% positive correlations). Those time frames include periods of fast and steep changes in white matter dynamics (first window), possibly an inflection point (second window), and a period of continued but slower growth (window three). The authors suggest the results could be used to identify targeted and brain-stage- appropriate nutrient recommendations to ensure proper brain development.
Schneider N, Mainardi F, Budisavljevic S, Rolands M, Deoni S. Associations between early life nutrient intakes and brain maturation show developmental dynamics from infancy to toddlerhood: A neuroimaging observation study. Journal of Nutrition, Volume 153, Issue 3, March 2023, Pages 897-908. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tjnut.2023.01.017.
Images via canva.com.