Physicians’ Understanding of Nutritional Factors Determining Brain Development and Cognition in the Middle East and Africa.

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Physicians’ Understanding of Nutritional Factors Determining Brain Development and Cognition in the Middle East and Africa.

Pediatr Gastroenterol Hepatol Nutr. 2019 Nov;22(6):536-544

Authors: Vandenplas Y, Rakhecha A, Edris A, Shaaban B, Tawfik E, Bashiri FA, AlAql F, Alsabea H, Haddad J, El Barbary M, Salah M, Abouelyazid M, Kumar M, Alsaad S

Purpose: Proper nutrition is essential for brain development during infancy, contributing to the continued development of cognitive, motor, and socio-emotional skills throughout life. Considering the insufficient published data in the Middle East and North Africa, experts drafted a questionnaire to assess the opinions and knowledge of physicians on the impact of nutrition on brain development and cognition in early life.
Methods: The questionnaire consisted of two parts: The first focused on the responders’ demographic and professional characteristics and the second questioned the role of nutrition in brain development and cognition. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize respondents’ characteristics and their responses to questions.
Results: A total of 1,500 questionnaires were distributed; 994 physicians responded. The majority of the surveyed physicians (64.4%) felt that nutrition impacts brain development in early childhood (0-4 years), with almost 90% of physicians agreeing/strongly agreeing that preventing iron, zinc, and iodine deficiency would improve global intelligence quotient. The majority of physicians (83%) agreed that head circumference was the most important measure of brain development. The majority of physicians (68.9%) responded that the period from the last trimester until 18 months postdelivery was crucial for brain growth and neurodevelopment, with 76.8% believing that infants breast-fed by vegan mothers have an increased risk of impaired brain development.
Conclusion: The results of this study show that practicing physicians significantly agree that nutrition plays an important role in brain and cognitive development and function in early childhood, particularly during the last trimester until 18 months postdelivery.

PMID: 31777719 [PubMed]

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