The foundation of a child’s intelligence begins in the womb. This is the stage where a baby’s life is critical in building personality and intelligence later to be seen once the baby is born.
Brain development in pregnancy often has a lasting effect in the personality of the child. Brain development in infants takes place in different phases as the baby grows in the womb.
The different phases of brain development in infants
The first 36 weeks of carrying a baby in the womb plays a huge role in brain development. This is the initial starting phase of brain growth. With brain development starting at a mere two or three weeks, by the age of four weeks, different parts of the brain begin to develop and mature. This opens up the functional sections of the brain enabling the baby learn more things.
At seven weeks, hormonal function occur opening up the stage of male and female distinction. At the end of seven weeks of pregnancy, these hormonal changes in the brain facilitate the primary prenatal brain development in infants.
This is a critical stage in which the brain recognizes the child’s sex. By twenty to twenty five weeks in the womb, the brain begins to develop at a much faster rate. By this time, the nervous system and brain neurons are well developed.
At this level, taste buds develop and the baby in the womb can actually begin to taste all the flavors of her mother’s food intake.
The next prenatal stage is the development of the faculty of hearing which enables the child to hear and recognize your voice.
The baby can now remember sounds and by thirty weeks, tremendous brain development occurs enabling the baby to shape memories. At thirty to forty weeks, the brain is now almost fully developed to perform the basic brain functions.
Factors that may affect prenatal brain development
- Age of parents is one of the factors known to affect a child’s brain development. Older parents mostly above 40 years may pose health risks and complications like autism, skull and facial syndromes and abnormalities. Intelligence levels are also adversely affected when a child’s parents are old.
- Inadequate nutrition also affects brain development in infants. The lack of essential nutrients like iron, calcium, vitamins, iodine and zinc may lead to personality problems, delay in language development, low intelligence levels or low I.Q and reduced concentration.
- Medication should be avoided as much as possible especially during the first trimester. Some common medications like aspirin can cause internal bleeding in a child’s brain due to it inability to stop blood clots.
- Folic acid deficiency is a major cause of spinal cord and neural tube complications. The neural tube is the vital tissue from which both the spinal cord and brain develop. Proper levels of this acid help in the closure of this tube reducing the risk of brain and back malformations.
- Other factors affecting brain development in infants include stress, use of alcohol during pregnancy, smoking of tobacco and other harmful drugs.
To ensure optimal brain growth for your baby, have the proper weight and try to keep in shape by doing regular exercise and eat the right diet with the needed nutrients for prenatal growth.