Early exposure to environmental toxins like lead, air pollution, and arsenic can have long-lasting and irreversible consequences for children’s brain development, especially in the developing world. Kam Sripada, is a PhD candidate at the Norwegian University for Science and technology.
Sripada recently published an article in the journal Neuron, titled “Beginning with the Smallest Intake: Children’s Brain Development and the Role of Neuroscience in Global Environmental Health”. It discusses how these toxins affect the growing brain and how to support children’s healthy development, including in India.
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Coming to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi as a part of a PhD program, Kam Sripada interviewed Dr Sheffali Gulati at the child neurology division, which conducts research into the effects of heavy metals – in particular lead – on children’s brain development.
Decades of research have shown that increased lead in the blood can be linked to poorer attention, lower IQ scores, and hearing and vision problems. Yet lead is also a part of many products and industrial activities in countries around the world, so children continue to have lead in areas where they live and play.
In the Nordic region, mercury and other toxins contained in seafood have been studied extensively for health effects, especially when consumed early in life.
Scientists are improving our understanding of the links between exposure to toxic chemicals and changes in the brain. Through working together with policymakers, this research has the potential to make a positive impact on children’s futures.