Neurodevelopment: The Impact of Nutrition and Inflammation During Early to Middle Childhood in Low-Resource Settings
The early to middle childhood years are a critical period for child neurodevelopment. Nutritional deficiencies, infection, and inflammation are major contributors to impaired child neurodevelopment in these years, particularly in low-resource settings. This review identifies global research priorities relating to nutrition, infection, and inflammation in early to middle childhood neurodevelopment. The research priority areas identified include: (1) assessment of how nutrition, infection, or inflammation in the preconception, prenatal, and infancy periods (or interventions in these periods) affect function in early to middle childhood; (2) assessment of whether effects of nutritional interventions vary by poverty or inflammation; (3) determination of the feasibility of preschool-and school-based integrated nutritional interventions; (4) improved assessment of the epidemiology of infection-and inflammation-related neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI); (5) identification of mechanisms through which infection causes NDI; (6) identification of noninfectious causes of inflammation-related NDI and interventions for causes already identified (eg, environmental factors); and (7) studies on the effects of interactions between nutritional, infectious, and inflammatory factors on neurodevelopment in early to middle childhood. Areas of emerging importance that require additional study include the effects of maternal Zika virus infection, childhood environmental enteropathy, and alterations in the child's microbiome on neurodevelopment in early to middle childhood. Research in these key areas will be critical to the development of interventions to optimize the neurodevelopmental potential of children worldwide in the early to middle childhood years.