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Effects of early nutrition on brain development and neurodevelopmental disorders in children

Research project The aim of this project is to investigate whether improved nutritional intake and diet in pregnant women and infants can reduce the risk of later learning and neurodevelopmental disorders in the children.

Cognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders are common - they affect approx. 20% of all Swedish children and include ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, learning difficulties and developmental delay. Diet and nutritional intake have been shown to be very important for brain development during fetal life and infancy, both in healthy children and in risk groups. The project results will be the basis for future recommendations for pregnant women and children and will hopefully contribute to reducing the risk of nutritional deficiencies and of learning and neurodevelopmental disorders in children.

Head of project

Magnus Domellöf
Professor, senior consultant (attending) physician

Project overview

Project period:

2016-01-01 2027-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

Research area

Neurosciences, Public health and health care science

External funding

Swedish Research Council, Region Västerbotten

Project description

We evaluate various interventions in several clinical studies:

· Iron supplementation (or placebo) to 228 breastfed infants aged 4-9 months - follow-up at 1, 2 and 3 years of age

· Iodine supplementation (or placebo) to 1275 pregnant women - follow-up at 3 years

· Hydrolyzed (or standard) milk formula to 234 healthy infants - follow-up at 1 year

· Fatty acid supplementation (or placebo) to 129 prematurely born children - follow-up at 2 years

In addition, we investigate how early nutritional intake is linked to the risk of cognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders in healthy women and children in the NorthPop study, as well as in risk groups, e.g. premature infants.

To assess the risk of later cognitive and neurodevelopmental disorders, we use advanced methods (MR brain, psychological tests) and we also develop new, promising methods such as functional near infrared spectroscopy (a high-tech "cap" that records brain activity) and the blood test marker neurofilament light.

External funding

Latest update: 2024-03-26