Nutrition and Brain Development

  • Myron Winick
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 14)


It has long been known that malnutrition retards growth. However, when these observations were initially made, it was not clear whether or not a child would recover if he or she subsequently received adequate nourishment. In an experiment done in Cambridge by Kennedy, McCance, and Widdowson, two groups of rats were malnourished for a period of time during growth. The only difference between the two groups was that in one the malnutrition was imposed from birth to weaning, and in the second malnutrition was imposed later, during the growth period. The results demonstrated that the animals malnourished from birth until weaning were small at the end of the period of malnutrition and remained small throughout the rest of their lives, no matter how they were subsequently fed. However, the group malnourished later in the growing period although also small at the end of the period of malnutrition, caught up when refed. So these investigators introduced the element of time into the equation: the earlier the malnutrition, the greater the chance of permanent effect. And yet, when growth was examined in terms of weight or height, or the usual anthropomorphic measurements, we could not break it down in such a way as to explain this dichotomy in recovery.


Cell Division Brain Development Head Circumference Marasmic Child Adequate Nourishment 
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  1. Scrimshaw, N. S., and Gordon, J. E., eds., 1968, Malnutrition, Learning, and Behavior, M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
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  4. Winick, M., ed., 1972, Current Concepts in Nutrition, Vol. 1, Nutrition and Development, John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Myron Winick
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Human NutritionColumbia University College of Physicians and SurgeonsNew YorkUSA

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