Disease prevention and good health is not a goal just for adults. NC Research Campus scientists are contributing scientific findings that show a a lifetime of good health starts as early as infancy with a mother’s diet and her genotype playing a critical role. As a child grows, their eating habits and activity level determine their risk for major disease.
Omega-3 and Brain Development
Carol L. Cheatham, PhD, developmental cognitive neuroscientist with the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute (NRI), found that the omega-3 fatty acid Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the diet of a mother-to-be and her genotype impacted the cognitive ability of her child as an infant and a toddler.
Further studies by Cheatham’s laboratory show that omega-3 fatty acids, which also include α-Linolenic acid (ALA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), keep the minds of young children between the ages of seven and nine functioning at a higher cognitive level. Omega-6 fatty acids found in a lot of processed foods, however, were found to slow some cognitive abilities. Read more.
Less Birth Defects in the World: FASD Prevention and Intervention
How much alcohol a mother consumes while pregnant is another factor in how a child develops physically, mentally and emotionally. Philip May, PhD, also with the NRI, is one of the leading researchers in the field of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). His research over the last 30 years has defined the field establishing diagnostic criteria, preventative methods and treatment strategies. Read more.
For Kids, A Little Exercise Goes A Long Way Fast to Prevent Disease
Studies by the Appalachian State University (ASU) Human Performance laboratory, which is led by David Nieman, PhD, FACSM, prove that when kids increase their level of physical activity, they experience positive health benefits quickly. Benefits like less body fat, increased muscular strength and reduced risk factors for major diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other metabolic and lifestyle-related disorders. Read more.