The brain is filled with activity passing information to all the parts of the body. You must be knowing the brain consists of neurons, and the passage of messages between neurons happens at connections which are called Synapses.
The brain is mainly divided into the Brain Stem, the Cerebrum and the Cerebral Cortex. With the help of new age technology, tons of research has been done on the brain of an infant which has opened doors to path breaking findings about the development of the brain.
One of the most important aspects of the research has shown that how a child’s earliest experiences affect their brain and its development. It is perhaps the crux of the foundation of the child. It does not matter if the experiences are positive or negative in nature, but it plays an important role.
But how does the brain develop?
Let us divide the brain into two of its major aspects which affects the child internally and externally.
Brain Development is a natural process and must be monitored closely by parents as it has been proven through research that whatever the child is exposed to at their earliest age, tends to have the most amount of impact on them growing up. This is between the age of zero to three years.
A child’s brain post birth is like a super fast car – always in motion grasping everything it notices and then processes it.
Synapses in the baby’s brain in the first three years is twice compared to adulthood:
A child’s brain sees immense amount of development within the first three years after birth. The number of neurons which is in millions already develop post birth and by the time the child is three years old, it will have 80% of the neurons an adult brain should have.
The brain develops at rapid speed and is one of the most beautiful aspects of pediatric neurology. How a brain that small is capable of controlling the entire body and its functions. Each and every detail in the environment of the baby is grasped by the brain and then worked on by the synapses.
The Organising of the Brain is affected by its early experiences:
Do you remember the home you first stayed in? Or the first city you visited after you were born? You might not remember it immediately apart from a few faint memories. But if you go back to that city, lot of memories sometimes, eventually start coming back. Right?
This happens because, the whole organisation of the brain is affected to a great extent by its earliest experiences. The first person you saw, the first dog you might have touched, the streets you passed by or even a different city you visited.
The genes play an integral role in assembling, moulding the brain and making it work according to the different inputs in the environment.
More amount of environmental input increases the stimulating synapse activity as well. For example, if a child is listening to a person or a song, there will be more speech involved, which will result in increased synapse activity.
Genes are the blueprint of the brain, but the child’s environment and experiences carry out the construction.
The first three years of the baby makes the foundation of the brain. In these three years, the brain captures more experiences than it will be able to do so later once the age increases.
If only genes determined how our brain developed, humans would not have been able to adapt more readily and quickly but as our brain has the ability to shape itself, it has been possible.
The earliest messages brain receives has the biggest impact:
Early brain development is a boon and a curse at some point of time. Since this age of the child between one to three years and the experiences they go through has perhaps the biggest impact on them, sometimes, a child may be susceptible to many negative influences in this period.
But this age can be taken advantage of as well. Parents, caregivers can create a positive environment for their child so that there is an increased chance of achievement, happiness and success.
We have talked about how the brain develops, but on the flipside, in many cases the brain often is damaged due to various external and internal factors.
Brain Damage in Infants:
Millions of Infants all over the world are affected by brain damage every year. The spectrum of causes of brain damage is vast, it is sadly a fact that the child, post any kind of brain damage, will experience permanent or temporary neurological problems along with a range of physical damage and problems.
To understand the scope of brain damage better, please visit us at Ankura so that our doctors can personally understand and explain the risks of brain damage and long term effects.
Causes of Brain Damage in Infants:
Oxygen Deprivation(Birth Asphyxia)
One of the most common causes of brain damage in infants is oxygen deprivation. It affects an average of four out of every thousand babies who are born in the ninth month. Usually, premature babies are often the victims of oxygen deprivation.
Since the babies are supposed to start breathing on their own post birth, doctors have a limited window of time to help them breathe if the baby is not able to breathe on its own.
Even few minutes of oxygen deprivation can lead to a lifelong damage to the brain and other disorders such as cerebral palsy, autism and also impaired vision.
Jaundice for infants is a very common condition and often affects premature babies. Jaundice can be identified by a yellowish stain on the baby’s skin and eyes.
If the jaundice is immediately treated post its diagnosis, there usually is no chance of a threat to the brain. However if it is not, the level of bilirubin increases in the baby and causes a condition called Kernicterus. This is a type of brain damage which is marked by high pitched screaming, lethargy and high fever.
The symptoms of Jaundice are:
- High Pitched Crying
- Backward arching of the neck
You must have often seen the damage physical trauma can causes on an infant. In many cases, if the baby is premature, there might be significant amount of physical trauma caused to the baby which might result in brain damage.
Another cause of physical trauma is when the surgeon often may not be able to use birth-assisting tools appropriately.
Physical trauma can also be caused if the delivery is done too quickly and rapidly as well specially in the cases if the life of the mother or child is at stake.
Infections in the Mother:
Many types of infections in the mother can cause some sort of brain damage to the baby if left untreated.
Some of the infections are:
- Vaginal Yeast Infections
Infections such as rubella, herpes and syphilis if left untreated can also cause several types of neonatal brain damage.
Symptoms of Infant Brain Damage:
Symptoms are depended on the extent of brain damage which is affecting the baby. Some symptoms are immediate in nature and some of them start showing up when there are developmental delays in the baby.
Some of the symptoms are:
Abnormal Temper: High pitched screaming and crying is often the sign of abnormal temper in the baby.
Physical appearance: One of the most common symptoms which are almost immediately visible is the physical appearance of the baby post birth. Small skulls, difficulty in vision, deformed spinal cord or a large forehead are some of the symptoms.
Delaying in Development: These symptoms are usually seen at a later stage when the baby starts being slow in development. Some babies might not crawl or may not be able to walk properly.
Treatments for Brain damage
Treatment has been a debatable topic when it comes to infant brain injury. It depends highly on the extent of the injury and how bad it is affecting the baby.
For babies who have minimal injury, will not be benefited with a surgery. For them, therapy is the accurate form of treatment but for a prolonged period of time.
The brain is complex and fragile, but an organ we cannot do without. It is important for parents to understand the risks of having a baby along with the joy of having a baby. Calculated risks and measures should be understood to prevent any kind of damage to the baby and the mother and that is why we at Ankura Hospitals are here for you. So do visit us and we will alwyas be there to help.
About The Hospital:
Ankura is a chain of Children’s Hospital in Hyderabad. Set up in the year 2011 in KPHB, near Hitech Railway Station, the Ankura Hospitals family has today spread its wings to Secunderabad, Khammam and Vijayawada.