Nutrition and the Growing, Developing Brain

Maureen M. Black, PhD
University of Maryland



  • In humans, the nutritional status of both parents affects the health of the offspring.
  • The first 1000 days (from conception to 2 years’ post-birth) is critical for human brain development.
  • Chronic stress can cause long-term damage to the brain and wears down immune system function, increasing the risk of mental illness and disease.
  • Early experiences and learnings during “sensitive” and “critical” periods are paramount in shaping future cognition, highlighting the importance of appropriate socialization.


Maureen M. Black, PhD- University of Maryland

Dr. Maureen Black is an endowed professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a Distinguished Fellow at RTI International (formerly Research Triangle Institute). She is a pediatric psychologist who specializes

in integrated strategies involving nutrition and responsive parenting to promote early child development in low- and middle-income countries and in low-income communities in high-income countries.