Brain Development

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Pediatric Brain Injury (Statistics and Treatment)

Posted by on 16 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Brain, Brain Damage, Brain Development

According to pediatric brain injury statistics, it is estimated that well over three million children in the United States are affected with pediatric brain injury each year. Pediatric brain injuries can be caused by a wide-variety of things including: sports injuries, meningitis, viral infection, drug use, war injuries, assaults, vehicle accidents, AIDS infection, and substance abuse. For most people that have a baby that has a pediatric brain injury, the news can be absolutely devastating. What’s even more devastating is the fact that most of these children are not given adequate care over the long term.

Long Term Brain Deficits

People that experience a pediatric acquired brain injury generally have a fairly poor long term prognosis. There can be significant developmental gaps (e.g. learning, cognition, etc.) for individuals that experienced one of these injuries. It is really tough to deal with this as parents of a baby who has a pediatric brain injury, but it is something that you must do. It is best to learn about the condition and educate yourself if you just found out that your baby has a significant injury. Unfortunately, many people end up panicking and this really just runs them in circles and really ends up helping nobody.

Different Types of Injuries

A pediatric brain injury is much more than just a small bump on the head or a minor scrape. It is a serious blow to the head that can cause a bunch of damage. Things like Shaken Baby Syndrome, in which a baby is shaken violently, thrown, or slammed, can induce very severe pediatric brain injuries. When the baby’s skull hits something with a lot of force, it causes bleeding inside of the brain and a ton of pressure is applied throughout the entire skull. This pressure is what can cause permanent brain damage, which could lead to a ton of different impairments when the brain is developing.

Pediatric Brain Injury Treatment

It is best to make an attempt to treat pediatric brain injuries as soon as possible; seek immediate medical attention for your baby. Currently there is a lot of research being done in the area of brain injury for babies and children. Most babies need to recover in the right environment with an appropriate natural balance between their home and hospital. If at all possible, it would be a great idea to send your baby to a pediatric brain injury program; there are these specialized programs throughout the country. Before you sign your baby up for rehab services, it would be a very smart idea to make sure that you have read reviews of the facility and inspected it yourself to make sure that it is up to your standards. Although the prognosis is not the greatest for a pediatric brain injury, taking action to find treatment is significantly better than doing nothing.

Possible Related Brain and/or Health Articles:

Frontal Lobe Dementia: General Description

Posted by on 05 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Brain, Brain Damage, Brain Development, Mental Health

Frontal lobe dementia is the direct result of brain damage to the frontal lobe of the brain in which dementia is the result. Picks disease is generally included in the diagnosis of frontal lobe dementia and people with them usually display very similar symptoms. People that experience developmental changes in personality, social behaviors, character changes, and impaired use of language due to damage or degeneration of the frontal and/or the temporal lobe(s) of the brain usually are diagnosed with Pick’s disease. It is very unfortunate to know someone with this diagnosis because currently, there is not a very good prognosis. Frontal lobe dementia is devastating because it changes the entire life of the person that has it.

Dementia Frontal Lobe General Description

Most frontal lobe dementias are accompanied by impaired cognition as well as psychological symptoms. Usually, psychological symptoms are found early on and they include (but are not limited to): impairments in social functioning, odd/erratic behavior, and signs of apathy. The symptoms of “Frontotemporal Dementia” are categorized by the description of Pick’s disease. People with this type of dementia may end up: being less active, losing interest in previously enjoyable activities, making inappropriate remarks in a conversation, and they may display symptoms of poor judgment.

Frontal Lobe Dementia Symptoms

Additionally, people with frontal lobe dementia may: not care about their personal appearance, they may act in an irresponsible manner, they may be very irritable (and experience other emotional problems like depression), and their ability to empathize with others (e.g. pick up on others’ emotions may be significantly reduced). Obviously not everyone that has this particular type of dementia is going to act the same or have the same symptoms of frontal lobe dementia; everyone is unique and therefore is going to be slightly different. Many of the symptoms can mimic psychological disorders, so it is important to distinguish frontal lobe dementia from a psychiatric disorder like schizophrenia.

Frontal Lobe Dementia Treatment

Frontal lobe dementia is extremely similar to vascular dementia – and really only brain imaging like fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) can distinguish between the two. This disease typically has an onset between the ages of 40 and 65. Unfortunately, there aren’t any medications used for successful treatment for frontal lobe dementia. SSRI’s are commonly given out to patients with this disorder to help stabilize their mood and erratic behaviors. Hopefully there are some new breakthroughs from scientists soon to help people that are struggling with this disease because it is extremely devastating.

Infant Brain Development In Toddlers

Posted by on 28 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: Brain Development, Brain Studies, New Brain Information

An individual’s quality of life is very dependent on the development of their brain – particularly their infant brain development. Beginning as a fetus, a human’s brain starts to develop. Mom has the huge responsibility of making sure her pregnancy diet is nutritious enough to support the baby’s development.  How come? Specific essential oils need to be received by the fetus for the best possible infant brain development- most importantly omega 3 fatty acids with DHA. A fetus’s brain begins to develop very early, as soon as three to six weeks after being conceived. Before a woman even conceives she can begin the foundation for this. All women of child bearing age are highly encouraged to include an abundance of omega 3 fatty acids with DHA in their diets.

What To Know About An Infants Brain Development

DHA consumption is now recognized, by scientists, to be what separates modern humans from our early ancestors. Many years ago our primitive ancestors began adding DHA into their diets, and the developing of our human brains was the product. This can begin to give you an impression of how closely brain growth is linked to omega 3 oils with DHA.

A diet that contained an inadequate amount of DHA, has been shown in our early cro-magnon ancestors to lead to a remarkable decline in brain capacity. A prompt growth in brain capacity took place when they relocated from desert areas to coastal areas, where they had access to an abundance of fish.

Infant Brain Development Research

The addition of DHA from fish oil is believed, by scientists, to be the basis of human brain evolution. Our astonishing ability to reason, communicate, learn, and create the wonderful things around us are all because of our large brains. The brain of the embryo is where this all starts. A baby begins to use its brain and nervous system to control many bodily functions before week 30 of pregnancy when many quick changes take place. In order for a pregnancy to be full term and the baby to be fully grown it needs to last another 10 weeks.

Understanding Infant Toddler Brain Development

Vital to ensuring a pregnancy goes full term, and for the brain and nervous system to grow are omega 3 fatty acids. We really have come a long way all thanks to ocean fish. Having them included in our diets has literally transformed out brains and helped keep us healthy.  There is are a lot of studies that are currently being conducted in the area of brain development in infant and toddler children.  In order to stay up to date, you can check out various psychological journals; they will talk more in depth about the subject.  Mothers who are insufficiently nourished during pregnancy tend to have babies with low birth weights, according to researchers at the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition in London. An inadequate amount of DHA has been observed in these infants.

A good pregnancy nutrition plan should include a vast amount of omega 3 oils with DHA because brain development disorders can be ever-lasting. To do this it is important to eat enough fatty fish or take high quality, pure fish oil capsules, or both. A mother needs to consume omega 3 fish oil every day for the highest levels of brain development. We all wish for our future children to be healthy and intelligent.  If you want more information on brain supplements and brain vitamins that you can be taking, be sure to do some research to make sure that they are healthy.

Teenage Brains: Risky Business?

Posted by on 08 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: Brain, Brain Development

Ever wondering why your teen is a wild, risk-taking, party animal? Well, it probably has a lot to do with his or her brain. During the teen years of life, their brain is still being shaped and is not yet fully developed. Teens are faced with some of the most risky situations and many can’t help their risky behavior. Getting drunk, taking drugs, having sex, are all too common of risky behaviors that teenagers engage in! Below are some collected teenage facts that will help you understand why teenage years are so risky.

Some quick teenage facts:

  • Car accidents — Males and females between age 16 – 20 are at least twice as likely to be in car accidents that drivers between the ages of 20 – 50. A quick fact check shows that car accidents are the leading cause of death in the range of 15 to 20 year olds. Roughly 30 % of all younger drivers that were killed had been drinking alcohol prior to the accident.
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases — More than 50 % of all new HIV cases occur below 25 years of age. This makes AIDS the 7th leading cause of death in the 13 to 24 year old range. Every hour, about 2 teens contract HIV. Three million young people are diagnosed with STD’s every year.
  • Alcoholism — Slightly less than half (40 %) of all adult alcoholics have reported that their first drinking problems occurred in their teenage years of life.
  • Gambling — There is evidence of pathological gambling among 1 in 10 teenagers.

Risk-taking may be a natural part of the teenage brain

Many behaviors that are adopted during the teenage years will affect health as an adult. Risky activities like getting drunk, trying drugs, and gambling, may have a severe impact on their life as an adult. Stopping risky behavior before it happens is still a matter of choice by teens and is critical to helping them develop a healthy, powerful brain. Research shows that much of the risk-taking done by teens, was probably hardwired into their brains.

MRI’s have shown that the brain does some major reorganization of structure from the teenage years into the adult years. These changes could account for the risk-taking, impulsiveness, and attention seeking that affect teenagers. The major problem is the fact that teens brains are “unfinished” and not yet done developing. There is so much restructuring and remodeling going on that teenagers are unable to “grow-up” and think like adults.

Recent studies have shown that teens usually focus on the benefits and undermine the risks involved when making decisions. After they carefully consider the risks and benefits of certain situations, the teenage brain only focuses on the pleasurable results and doesn’t really care about the harm that their decision could cause to themselves or others.

Teens actually overestimate risks?

For many years people have made the stereotypes: teens are bad drivers, have unprotected sex, binge drink, and gamble. These stereotypes were made because the public and health professionals agree that teenagers think that they’re “invincible” to all harm. Many adults think that teens completely underestimate their risks or they wouldn’t be taking such bold actions. The funny thing is, studies have shown that teens are more likely to consider themselves “vulnerable” and actually “overestimate” rather than completely dismiss their risks. Another fact to note is that adults actually consider themselves more invulnerable to risks when compared to teens. So are teens really the ones that actually have poorer judgment in risky situations? No.

Then why do teens even take risks?

Studies have shown that when teens actually do decide to engage in a risky behavior, it’s not due to the possible dangerous consequences; it’s because they think that the benefits of their actions outweigh the risks! A 2002 study by Julie Goldberg at the University of Chicago showed that teens thought that the benefits of alcohol significantly outweighed the risks associated with the behavior. Teens understand the risks involved with drinking the alcohol, but find that the drinking of alcohol itself is too satisfying for them not to do it! The teenage brain puts such a huge focus on rewards, that the rewards almost always outweigh the negative associated consequences.

Teens Vs. Adults recap

It seems that teens ability to think “too logically” actually interferes with their decision making. Most adults would agree that they think more logically than teens, but studies show that they don’t. Then how is an adult able to make better decisions? Adults actually think more illogically and use more intuition when making decisions! Adults actually make decisions by being more intuitive rather than being too logical.

Two types of teen risk-takers:

1) Risky-deliberators — This type of risk taker relies on reasoning that is age-appropriate and logical. The majority of teens are in this category. Before doing something dangerous, teens trade off risks for benefits. Though most of the time, risky deliberators think that since the benefits outweigh the risks, a potentially dangerous action is alright to engage in. Unfortunately, this type of risk taker could be involved in a tragedy.

An example of a situation that would most likely trouble a risky-deliberator: A friend suggests to the “risky-deliberator” that they should steal playstation games from Target. The “risky-deliberator” would think about getting caught and the trouble that he could get into. If the value of the games was more worthy than getting caught, the “risky-deliberator” would go steal the games.

2) Risky-reactors — This type of risk taker just doesn’t think deeply or analytically. They act impulsively because of some pleasurable temptation in their surroundings. Risky reactors don’t intend to do anything dangerous, but due to many factors (i.e. peer pressure) they get pulled into risky situations that they aren’t able to successfully evaluate. Luckily, the majority of risky-reactors grow out of their behavior by adulthood.

An example of a troubling situation for a risky-reactor: Everyone is at a high-school football game and one friend tells the “risky-reactor” and other friends around the “risky-reactor” that he smuggled in some alcohol and wants them to try it. The “risky-reactor” would not think this situation through, may get excited in the heat of the moment, and would probably have some alcohol — while remaining unaware of the danger and potential consequences.

Here are some suggestions to help reduce your teen’s risk-taking behavior:

Talk to your teen. Inform them, debate with them, and demonstrate why they should resist risky behaviors. Present them with some facts about their social norms. Provide them with safe alternatives for the potential risky-behaviors that they may engage in. When you talk, teens actually do listen.

Help them understand. Help your teenager understand the truth about potential situations that they may face. Tell them the real truth about alcohol, drugs, and HIV. This will help get the risks in their memory.

Make some rules. Though you shouldn’t have absolute authority over your teens life, you should make some rules. Rules can be things like telling them to be home at a certain time, having a limit on the number of passengers in their car, and reducing exposure to alcohol.

Monitor and watch over. It is important to monitor and watch over your teens whenever possible. When you are around, they will be much less likely to engage in risky behavior. You don’t need to try to get involved in their life, but keep an eye on them ;)

Show and encourage healthy behaviors. Encourage your teens to develop positive, healthy behaviors and good friends. Friends and behaviors go hand-in-hand. When they hang out with positive people that have healthy habits, they will be much more likely to turn out the same way!

Teens need YOU, their brain is still developing!

It doesn’t really matter whether your kid is a “risky-reactor” or a “risky-deliberator.” What matters most is that they get the extra guidance from their parents that they need. Their brains are still developing and making significant changes in neural-networking. As a parent, it is important to nurture your child’s brain in the best possible way by being around for support!

References: Scientific American Mind. December 2006 / January 2007 Issue.  Article: “Is The Teen Brain Too Rational? Authors: Valerie F. Reyna and Frank Farley