A newly released study indicated there may be a connection between your pregnancy diet and your child's emotional and cognitive development, according to Science World Report.
NUTRIMENTHE, a research project funded by the European Commission, conducted a five-year study on the relationship between a child's dietary intake from gestation into early childhood. The study looked at the way diet impacted children's development from birth to age 9.
The study looked at hundreds of families with young children. The research, led by professor Cristina Campoy, studied the impact of B-vitamins, breast milk, formula milk, iodine and omega-3 fatty acids on a child's psychological, behavioral and emotional development. Specifically, iodine and omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in oily fish, were shown to enhance a child's development. Iodine was shown to enhance a child's reading and comprehension abilities, while omega-3s are critical to proper brain cell construction.
Other studies had been conducted on these factors, according to Campoy, but they were short-term and therefore inconclusive.
"Short term studies seem unable to detect the real influence of nutrition in early life. 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," Campoy said in a statement to the press.
What does this mean for moms-to-be?
Pregnant women should focus on getting more of these essential nutrients, such as iron and omega-3 fatty acids, into their diets throughout the course of their pregnancy. While the study singled out oily fish, other food sources such as flax, olives and avocados also contain omega-3s. Iodine can also be found in foods like shrimp, baked potato (with the skin still on) and turkey breast. Dried seaweed is also an extremely potent source of this nutrient.
For proper baby development, most experts also recommend that women up their intake of calcium and folate. Calcium, which helps babies develop strong bones, can be derived from low-fat dairy products or else fortified sources such as orange juice. Alternative milk sources, such as soy or almond milk, are generally good sources of calcium as well. Folate, or folic acid, can reduce the chances of your baby developing certain birth defects, like neural tube defects. Dark, leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach are great sources of folate.
What other essential nutrients did you load up on during your pregnancy? Let us and other readers know in the comments section!