Child Malnutrition Hurts Brain Later

EAST LANSING, Mich., July 2 (UPI) — A U.S. researcher has linked malnutrition early in life to diminished brain function in adulthood.

Zhenmei Zhang of Michigan State University in East Lansing suggests fighting childhood hunger not only helps children grow normally but may also prevent lessened brain function later in life.

The study, published in Social Science & Medicine, found women who had suffered from childhood hunger were 35 percent more likely than others to have cognitive impairment at age 65 or older. Men who suffered from childhood hunger had a 29 percent higher chance.

“It’s important for policymakers to know that investing in children really has long-term benefits, not only for those individuals but for society as a whole,” Zhang says in a statement. “For example, fighting childhood hunger can reduce future medical expenditures. It’s very expensive for families and society to take care of people who suffer from dementia or cognitive impairment.”

Zhang and colleagues studied 15,444 elderly people in China who were participants in the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey.

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