Brain Biology > Neurotypical > Development > Sensitivity of Children's Brains

Why are Children’s Brains So Sensitive to Environmental Factors?

Children’s brains are more vulnerable to environmental factors than those of adults. Why?

In the prenatal period, the brain is much more sensitive to environmental influences than later in life because all of the neurons originate from a small layer of cells. Any impact to these cells can have cascading impacts as the baby develops.

Further, the baby does not have the full protection of the blood–brain barrier until its sixth month of prenatal life. This barrier helps to keep out large molecules, like toxins or heavy metals, that may damage the brain. Before that time, the brain is exposed.

After birth, the brain is still more vulnerable than that of an adult, because babies can’t detoxify any harmful fatty substance that can be passed on through breast milk.1







References:
  1. Khalia M (2008) Brain development: anatomy, connectivity, adaptive plasticity, and toxicity. Metab Clin Exp 57 (Suppl 2):S2-S5. PMID: 18803960.



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