Nervous system disorders across the life course in resource-limited settings

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The resiliency of the adult nervous system is markedly affected by the environment and the circumstances during infant and child development. As such, adults in resource-limited settings who may have experienced early deprivation are particularly vulnerable to subsequent neurological disorders. Adult populations in countries with relatively recent advances in economic development may still have a higher susceptibility to neurological illness or injury that is reflective of the socioeconomic environment that was present during that population's infancy and childhood. Brain and peripheral nervous system research conducted over the past decade in resource-limited settings has led to an impressive and growing body of knowledge that informs our understanding of neurological function and dysfunction, independent of geography. Neurological conditions feature prominently in the burgeoning epidemic of non-communicable diseases facing low- and middle-income countries. Neurological research in these countries is needed to address this burden of disease. Although the burden of more prevalent and severe neurological disease poses public health and clinical challenges in settings with limited neurological expertise, the same factors, along with genetic heterogeneity and the relative absence of ingrained clinical care practices, offer circumstances well-suited for the conduct of crucial future research that is globally relevant.

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Author information


  1. Epilepsy Division, Department of Neurology, University of Rochester, 265 Crittenden Boulevard, CU420694, Rochester, New York 14642-0694, USA.

    • Gretchen L. Birbeck
  2. Chikankata Epilepsy Care Team, Chikankata Hospital, Private Bag S2, Mazabuka, Zambia.

    • Gretchen L. Birbeck
  3. Department of Neurology, Yale University, P.O. Box 208018, New Haven, Connecticut, 06520-8018, USA.

    • Ana-Claire Meyer
  4. Kenya Medical Research Institute, Box 614-40100, Kisumu, Kenya.

    • Ana-Claire Meyer
  5. Department of Medicine, University of Ibadan, PMB 5016, Ibadan 200001, Nigeria.

    • Adesola Ogunniyi

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The authors declare no competing financial interests. Financial support for publication has been provided by the Fogarty International Center.

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