Would you believe that almost half of the growth of the human brain occurs within the first three months of life?   These are the findings of a new study that looked at the rapid growth and development of a baby's brain.

For the study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Neurology, researchers used advanced scanning techniques to measure the brains of 87 healthy babies from birth to three months. The researchers, led by a team from the University of California, noticed the most rapid changes immediately after birth in which newborn brains were growing at an average rate of one percent per day.  This slowed to 0.4 percent per day at the end of the 90-day period.  They also found that male brains grew more quickly than females and that the areas of the brain associated with movement grew at the fastest pace, while those associated with memory grew more slowly.

Premature babies had brains that were four percent smaller at birth than their peers who were not born early.  By the end of the three month period, that difference dropped to two percent.

Researchers are hoping that this study will not only give them a better idea of how a baby's brain develops in her first few months, but also help them better understand developmental disorders - such as autism - at an earlier age.

Next up, the team is hoping to learn how prenatal alcohol and drug consumption affects a baby's brain size and development.

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