Children’s behavior and intelligence affected by diet during pregnancy and early life.

nutritionA new study has been released which will add to the of every pregnant mother, that you are indeed what you eat. The research reveals that maternal and during the early life stage is vital for the optimum and mental performance in children.

In a five year study researchers from the NUTRIMENTHE project involved hundreds of European families with young children and looked at the effect of, B-vitamins, folic acid, breast milk versus , iron, iodine and omega-3 fatty acids, on the cognitive, emotional and behavioral development of children from before birth to age nine.

Folic acid, which is recommended in some European countries, to be taken by women during the , can reduce the likelihood of behavioral problems during early childhood. Eating oily fish is also very beneficial, not only for the omega-3 fatty acids they which are ‘building blocks’ for brain cells, but also for the which has a positive effect on reading ability in children when measured at age nine.

Professor Cristina , who led the project explained the need for a long term study: “Short term studies seem unable to detect the real influence of ,” explained Prof Cristina , “NUTRIMENTHE was designed to be a long-term study, as the brain takes a long time to mature, and early deficiencies may have far-reaching effects. So, early nutrition is most important.”

In giving advice to parents, Cristina explained, “it is important to try to have during pregnancy and in the early life of the child and to include breastfeeding if possible, as such ‘’ can have a positive effect on mental performance later in childhood.” She went on to explain, “however, in the case of genetics, future studies should include research on in mothers and children so that the optimum advice can be given. This area is relatively new and will be challenging!”


University of Granada (2013, September 13). Diet during pregnancy and early life may affect children’s behavior and intelligence

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