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Poster A143 - Sketchpad Series

Assessing the links among malnutrition, brain functional connectivity, and behavioral outcomes in young Bangladeshi children.

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

RENATA DI LORENZO1,2, LAURA PIRAZZOLI1,2, EILEEN SULLIVAN1,3, TALAT SHAMA4, TERRENCE FORESTER5, JUSTIN O'SULLIVAN6, CHARLES NELSON1,2,3; 1Boston Children's Hospital, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 2Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States, 3Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, 4Icddrb, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 5University of the West Indies, 6University of Auckland

In Bangladesh, acute malnutrition affects millions of children under 5 years (UNICEF, 2019). Malnutrition has profound consequences especially in infancy, when the brain networks supporting the development of cognitive and social-emotional skills are formed. Recent evidence has begun unveiling the impact of malnutrition on brain development (Xie et al., 2019). Thus, early nutritional deficiencies may affect cognition and behavior throughout childhood, possibly extending into adulthood (Prado & Dewey, 2014). To date, only few studies have explored the mechanisms linking malnutrition, behavior, and brain development in low- to middle-income countries. Our work examines these links and the effects of a nutritional intervention, in young Bangladeshi children. We collected longitudinal brain functional connectivity data (using functional near-infrared spectroscopy) and cognitive/behavioral data (e.g., Bayley scales of infant and toddler development) from 140 acutely malnourished and 70 well-nourished children. Testing occurred at two time points: once at 1 year of age (pre-intervention) and again at 2 years of age (following one year of intervention). While data from the second-year visit is still undergoing processing, we performed preliminary analyses on the 1-year-old data (pre-intervention). Our results indicate differences between functional connectivity patterns of acutely malnourished and well-nourished children. Additionally, the well-nourished group shows positive associations between functional connectivity and language measures (Bayley scales). No significant correlation was observed for the malnourished group, suggesting that malnourishment may suppress the brain-behavior associations found in well-nourished children. Further analyses, incorporating data from 2-year-olds, will explore potential intervention effects on behavioral and brain connectivity measures of the malnourished group.

Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Development & aging


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April 13–16  |  2024