Eating fruits during pregnancy may boost a child's IQ, a new research has discovered.
While eating fruits has long been associated with healthier life, new scientific data point out that fruits can be advantageous to babies even before they are born.
The new study discovered that mothers who ate more fruits during pregnancy had children who got higher scores in a developmental test performed during the first year of life.
"We wanted to know if we could identify what factors affect cognitive development," says senior author Piush Mandhane from the University of Alberta. He adds that the team discovered that one of the most significant indicators of cognition is how much fruit the mother ate during pregnancy.
Looking At The Effects Of Fruits On IQ
To investigate, the team looked into data from a nationwide study that involved 3,500 babies and their families.
For the study, the researchers particularly analyzed data of 688 children from Edmonton, Canada and controlled for parameters that would typically influence learning and growth. These factors include family income, parental educational attainment and the child's gestational age.
Findings show that children of pregnant women who ate six or seven servings of fruit or fruit juice daily ranked six or seven points higher on the developmental tests.
Linking Results To Flies
Mandhane also collaborated with Francois Bolduc, who studies the genetic cognitive origins of both humans and fruit flies.
Bolduc says although humans and flies are two very different species, the latter have 85 percent of the genes used in human brain function, making them a good model to study the genetics of memory.
Bolduc explains that fruit flies have long been prominent in the area of learning and memory. Also, genes needed for fly memory have been linked with autism and intellectual deficiencies. In experiments he had performed, he was also able to show that flies born to mothers who were given increased fruit juice while pregnant had better memory, resembling the results of Mandhane's study.
Although the study showed the promising effects of fruits on babies, Mandhane warns about overconsumption. Pregnant women should also practice caution when eating fruits as excessive amounts may lead to gestational diabetes and overweight babies.
Future work will involve looking into whether the advantages of consuming fruit during pregnancy persist as children grow. The team will also try to identify if the practice can also improve executive functions such as organizing and planning.
The study was published online in the journal EbioMedicine on April 22.