It’s well documented that a mother’s
use of alcohol or nicotine while pregnant
can disrupt brain growth and lead
to vision or hearing problems, brain
damage, learning disabilities or birth
If a mother is very depressed, her
emotional state could have a negative
and lasting effect on her child. Street
drugs and certain prescription drugs can
also affect a fetus, Kolb says.
Creating a responsive maternal
environment is one way to influence
babies’ brain development, says Dr.
Robbin Gibb, associate professor in
the Department of Neuroscience at the
University of Lethbridge and researcher
at the Canadian Centre for Behavioural
Neuroscience. For example, reading
aloud will improve a baby’s literacy
and make the brain more adaptable and
better able to deal with stresses later in
“As a parent, you have a profound
effect on your baby and you have the
power to make the choices that help this
baby on the right track,” Gibb says.
Communities can pitch in too by
helping families connect with one
another, get some down time and
offering parenting resources.
Kevin Galko | TNT Participant Photo by Nigel Parry/CPi
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