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Category: Science

How Inflammation Affects the Developing Brain

I have posted several blogs relating the fundamental role of inflammation to neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Indeed, this is one of the central themes of Grain Brain.

That said, we’ve also got to take a look at the role of inflammation in the developing brain because the same damaging effects of the chemical mediators of inflammation in the adult might well lead to issues in the delicate brains of infants and young children.

In a new study just published in the journal BMC Pediatrics, researchers looked at several parameters in infants including the frequency of febrile illnesses, as well as blood markers of increased inflammation including IL-1 beta, IL-6, and IL-4 which is thought to indicate reduction of inflammation.

What the authors discovered was dramatic. There was a significant direct relationship between higher levels of the inflammatory markers and risk for developmental issues. In addition, higher levels of IL-4, associated with lower levels of inflammation, correlated perfectly with reduced risk for developmental problems.

Further, the authors found that: “Every additional 10 days of fever was associated with a 1.9 decrease in language composite score and a 2.1 decrease in motor composite score.”

So the role of inflammation in brain health and function throws a wide net and does indeed prove of fundamental importance throughout the age continuum. As far as infant health is concerned, keeping inflammation down looks like an important goal. Inflammation is reduced when babies are health and have healthy immune systems. That means minimizing antibiotic exposure as much as possible, spacing immunizations so kids don’t get a boatload at a single visit to the pediatrician, breastfeeding whenever possible, and doing the best you can to avoid caesarean section.

For more information, order your copy of Grain Brain today and join Dr. Perlmutter’s email list.

  • Ita

    Excelente!! Gracias

  • Nontoxicmama

    Fish oil!! Everyone should take it!!

    • David Perlmutter

      Agree, but focus on the DHA.

    • Ellen

      Fukushima radiation makes that impossible!

  • dmharvey8

    You recommend taking alpha lipoic acid. I have read that combining it with Acetyl L-carnitine can help with cognitive decline. What are your thoughts?

    Thank you

  • John Fish

    Why are the senior supplements a different dosage than the regular dosage

  • Emmasmom

    Babies with brain injury can end up with a pro-inflammatory response that can persist into school going age. My daughter has cp and I am a GP. This first statement disturbs me greatly and I don’t know which interventions could really help her. She is now 4. She used to have infantile spasms but has been drug and convulsion free for two years. I am feeding her a high fat and protein diet, but it’s tricky to feed her vegetables or anything she doesn’t like. I am giving her vit 1000iu every day, l-carnitine and a antioxidant capsule with anti-oxidants. I am thinking about interval hypoxic hyperoxic therapy to target the mitochondria. Also looking into cannabinoids but your advice or reference to any literature would be excellent. Ps, are you familiar with Dr R. Lieber’s work? He had shown on muscle biopsy and genetic Analysis of muscle of children with Cp that the changes we See in their muscle is due to changes genetic Expression. Exactly äs you have pointed out previously. We end up with sarcomeres that cannot store potential loaded energy and with brittle short fascia. I believe this pro-inflammatory response is key. Please help or guide me. Reading your book. Loving it. Thanks Erika

  • Patsi

    Dr.Perlmutter, thank you for your impressive and important work. Can you speak to type 1 diabetes, gluten and the ideal diet to manage blood sugar levels. Of course it is impossible to fast with type 1 diabetes and the lows require treatments etc. our child was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 18 and has difficulty maintaining healthy A1C’s despite eating healthy, exercising and avoiding all snacks etc. she is also a vegetarian and has adopted a gluten free diet.
    Thank you!

  • Bill

    Do you have a recommendation for combating V.R.E.?

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