Recent research has shown that the brain development in the prenatal stage and in the first three years of life is affected by many factors. These factors are genetics and various external factors. Realizing that we do not have direct control over genetic factors, this web page is devoted to recognizing and discussing some external factors on brain development.


Prenatal Development

From conception to birth, the brain of the embryo/fetus is rapidly expanding. By the time a nine-month (full-term) baby is born, there are over 100 billion neurons in the nervous system. The baby has performed such behaviors as turning, thumb-sucking, hiccupping, hearing, and many more. The following link vividly shows you the changes from conception to birth.
Need shockwave to see the 9 months of development
Another good web site that describes the progress is Inside the womb
A third link to see videos of the growing fetus is at Just the facts
A fourth link will show pictures of the developing baby Pictures
The following graph came from the web site ...UW Faculty Web. This presents the rapid expansion of the brain.

Brain Development

(Data from Dekaban, A.S. and Sadowsky, D., Changes in brain weights during the span of human life: relation of brain weights to body heights and body weights, Ann. Neurology, 4:345-356, 1978)

What factors might affect the development? There are different viewpoints concerning this question. There is a general agreement that street drugs (cocaine, heroin, etc.) adversely affects prenatal development. (Link for report is at Drug Use and Pregnancy.)What about prescription medicines? This link,Drugs, provides a beginning point to answer this question. This web site also deals with the effects of smoking. A second web site that discusses drugs is Drugs in Pregnancy

Another area of concern is the mother's general emotional well-being. The following link looks at the affect of mother's stress on the fetus. Mom, you're stressing me out.

The last factor is a very controversive is can the unborn child learn? For example, if the mother reads aloud to the unborn child, would that child have more success learning to read as in school? The following site gives examples of this possibility. How unborn babies think.

Early Child Development

The first three years of life is a very critical period of time for early brain development. What happens during this span of time could determine either increase or decrease the number of synapes connections and affect the potential of the brain's development. The optimal time for a child to reach his/her potential is dependant on many factors. We would like to present some research that examines external influences/stimuli on the brain.

Almost one quarter (24%) of American children that are under the age of three were living in poverty in 1995. This population of about 2.8 million of socioeconomically deprived children appear to face a greater risk of impaired brain development due to their exposure to a number of risk factors associated to poverty. Children tend to be very resilient, however poverty presents serious threats to early brain development. The following chart depicts some factors that are known to affect brain development according to the web site. (This link goes to that web site).economics-brain

Here are some web links to further examine the research done on brain development during the early years.
  1. Infant development link

  2. Brain and Child development

  3. Brain dev.

  4. Site where you can found alot of information. Go to "brain Facts" for latest research about prenatal and infant brain development
  5. Early Brain Development
  6. Facts about a baby's brain
  7. Oregon

  8. Brain connect
  9. Brain Facts