How childhood inflammation affects brain development

Credit: Unsplash+

In a study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, scientists have discovered a link that could unravel one of the mysteries behind neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

These conditions, which often emerge in childhood, can significantly affect a person’s ability to communicate, interact socially, and regulate emotions.

What Are Neurodevelopmental Disorders?

Neurodevelopmental disorders encompass a range of conditions that impact the brain’s growth and function from early childhood, possibly persisting throughout life.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are among the most recognized of these conditions. They can influence learning, communication, and social interactions in various ways.

The Brain’s Development Journey

The development of the human brain is a complex and fascinating process that begins in the womb and continues into adolescence. This intricate organ is made up of billions of neurons, or nerve cells, that communicate to support our thoughts, movements, and feelings.

The Cerebellum’s Crucial Role

Within the brain, the cerebellum plays a pivotal role not just in coordinating physical movements but also in higher cognitive functions like language, social interactions, and emotional regulation.

Childhood Inflammation’s Impact on the Brain

The University of Maryland School of Medicine’s recent research focused on the cerebellum, examining how inflammation in childhood affects its development.

Inflammation, the body’s defense mechanism against threats such as infections, can have adverse effects when it becomes chronic or occurs at critical times of development.

By analyzing the brains of children who had experienced inflammation due to conditions like infections or asthma, and comparing them with those of children who died from accidents, researchers made a startling find.

Using advanced single-cell genomics, they discovered that inflammation led to the improper development of certain neurons in the cerebellum, notably Golgi and Purkinje neurons.

The Importance of Golgi and Purkinje Neurons

Golgi neurons are integral to the cerebellum’s internal communication, while Purkinje neurons connect the cerebellum with other brain regions vital for cognitive and emotional tasks.

The study found that in children affected by early inflammation, these neurons did not mature correctly, potentially contributing to the onset of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Why This Discovery Matters

This connection between childhood inflammation and abnormal brain development marks a significant advancement in our understanding of neurodevelopmental disorders.

It opens new pathways for potential treatments and preventive measures, aiming to improve the lives of those affected by these conditions.

The Path Forward

Despite the complexities of the human brain and the myriad unknowns in its development, researchers are making strides in uncovering how various factors, including inflammation, play a role in neurodevelopmental disorders.

These insights not only deepen our understanding but also bring hope for new strategies to support individuals and families navigating these challenges.


The University of Maryland School of Medicine’s findings highlight a crucial link between childhood inflammation and brain development, offering a new perspective on the origins of neurodevelopmental disorders.

As research continues to evolve, we move closer to unraveling the mysteries of the brain, providing hope for more effective treatments and improved quality of life for affected individuals.

For those interested in further understanding the impact of health conditions on development, additional studies on related topics, such as the role of vitamin D in autism and the behavioral cues in eating habits, continue to contribute to this vital field of research.

If you care about health, please read studies that vitamin D can help reduce inflammation, and vitamin K could lower your heart disease risk by a third.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about new way to halt excessive inflammation, and results showing foods that could cause inflammation.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.