Women who eat fruit while pregnant may reap the rewards when it comes to their baby’s intelligence, according to a new study out of the University of Alberta.
The researchers set out to find what affects a child’s cognitive development, and realized one of the biggest predictors was how much fruit was consumed during pregnancy.
“The more fruit moms had, the higher their child’s cognitive development,” Piush Mandhane, a U of A associate pediatrics professor, said in a statement.
He found that if pregnant women ate roughly six or seven servings of fruit or fruit juice a day, their one-year-old infants placed six or seven points higher on the IQ scale.
“It’s quite a substantial difference,” Mandhane said.
“We know that the longer a child is in the womb, the further they develop — and having one more serving of fruit per day in a mother’s diet provides her baby with the same benefit as being born a whole week later.”
The discovery, published in the journal EbioMedicine, was made using data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study (a nationwide birth cohort study involving over 3,500 Canadian infants and their families).
Mandhane focused on the 688 Edmonton children in there. He controlled for factors that would normally affect a child’s learning and development, like: family income, the mother and father’s education, and whether the baby was premature.
As promising as he believes his findings are, he still cautions against going overboard on fruit consumption.
Gestational diabetes is just one of the potential complications associated with increased intake of natural sugars.
Another study this month warned that women who consume artificially sweetened drinks daily while pregnant may give birth to heavier babies and contribute to an increased risk of early childhood obesity.
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Mandhane advises expectant mothers to stick with the daily intake recommended in the Canada Food Guide and consult with their doctors until more research can be done.
Next up on his agenda: to figure out whether the apparent benefits of prenatal fruit consumption stick with children over time.