Eating more fruit during pregnancy increases the cognitive skills of children, new research finds.
The study was inspired by previous resea rch finding that mothers who eat more fruit have smarter children, when measured at one-year-old.
Another study has found that children fed a healthier diet from an early age have a higher IQ,
Children who were breastfed and later given plenty of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods had IQs up to two points higher at age 8.
Children’s brain are particularly sensitive early on — in the womb and through their first years of life.
Junk food and ready-made baby meals have both been linked to lower IQs in children when they reach 8-years-old.
Dr Claire Scavuzzo, study co-author, said:
“Our findings replicated what was found in humans and fruit flies.
In a controlled, isolated way we were able to confirm a role for prenatal fruit exposure on the cognitive development of newborns.
We see this as especially valuable information for pregnant mothers, as this offers a nonpharmacological, dietary intervention to boost infant brain development.”
The latest study was carried out on rats.
The results showed that pregnant rats fed fruit juice gave birth to babies with better memories.
Ms Rachel Ward-Flanagan, the study’s first author, said:
“Our results show that there is significant cognitive benefit for the offspring of mothers that ingest more fruit during pregnancy.”
Ms Ward-Flanagan continued:
“The idea that nutrition may also impact mental health and cognition has only recently started to gain traction.
People want to be able give their kids the best possible start in life, and from our findings, it seems that a diet enriched with fruit is a possible way to do so.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Ward-Flanagan et al., 2020).