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One in three people will have a neurological problem in life 

One in three people will have a neurological problem in life 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) published on Tuesday its first position paper to understand brain health and the importance of optimising it since it is an evolving concept, which increasingly attracts attention not only from the health sector but also from society in general.

One in three people on Earth will develop some type of neurological disorder at some point in their life. These disorders are the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report on optimizing brain health throughout life. 

About nine million people die each year from neurological disorders, including stroke, migraine, dementia and meningitis. Brain health is a hot topic that is being discussed more and more not only in medical circles but also in society in general.

“The brain is by far the most complex organ in the human body. It allows us to feel, think, move and interact with the world around us,” recalls WHO’s Dr. Ren Minghi. – The brain also helps regulate many of our body’s vital functions, such as the cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, and immune systems. 

“Even at a very early stage in the development of the organism, the health of the brain is affected by myriad of factors,” says Dr. Minghi. – Some of these factors can pose a great threat to the brain, and their combination leads to loss of developmental potential, disease and disability.”

According to the WHO, 43% of children under the age of five in low- and middle-income countries – almost 250 million boys and girls – do not reach their development potential due to extreme poverty and stunting, which represents an economic loss and an expected reduction of 26% of annual income in adulthood. 

The WHO report on optimizing brain health throughout life provides a framework for understanding brain function. The document complements the global action plan on epilepsy and other neurological disorders adopted in April.

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The report provides information on five main groups of factors that affect brain health, namely physical health, a healthy environment, safety and security, learning and social connections, and access to quality services. 

The WHO has stated that a balanced combination of these factors will reduce the prevalence of many neurological and mental health and substance use problems. In addition, it would also cause a general improvement in quality of life.

important for young people

According to the publication, undernutrition and overnutrition in the mother can have dire consequences for the development of the brain in the womb, especially nutrient deficiencies. In addition, conditions such as maternal diabetes can also affect a baby’s neurodevelopment.

“Early on, specific nutrient deficiencies during pregnancy, such as folate deficiency or maternal iron deficiency, can cause neural tube defects and affect neurodevelopmental outcomes in children”.

“Breastfeeding is an important factor for brain development, not only for its nutritional benefits but also for immune protection and the bond between mother and baby, which are vital for brain health.”

Important for the old

Nutritional deficiencies have also been linked to dementia and cognitive decline later in life. However, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a healthy, balanced diet has been shown to reduce the risk of developing these neurological disorders.

“Imbalanced diets that are, for example, low in fruit, vegetables, and fiber and high in sodium have been linked to neurological conditions such as stroke and dementia”.

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