• Brain imaging tool seeks signs of infant malnutrition

    Giorgia Scaturro

An estimated 161 million children around the world are chronically malnourished, or stunted. Lack of food and nutrients severely harm children’s development. This can be obvious, such as when children are much shorter than they should be for their age. But it can also affect hidden parts of the body including the brain.
In this video, we examine the work of a group of scientists from University College London, the university of Birkbeck and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom who have travelled to the Gambia to test a new, cheap tool that allows doctors to monitor the brain growth of infants from birth in a non-invasive way. It is also much more accurate than traditional methods such as measuring head circumference with a tape measure.
This project uses brain imaging to see if malnutrition damages the development of the entire brain or whether certain regions and cognitive functions are at particular risk. It could help prevent malnutrition by identifying what a baby’s brain needs during each stage of its development. The tool is now also being deployed in Bangladesh.