Three ways to boost baby’s IQ while in the mom’s womb

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Front Page - By: Chris­tia S. Padolina, M.D.

The first 1000 days of life, span­ning from con­cep­tion un­til the age of two, helps build a strong foun­da­tion for a child’s growth and de­vel­op­ment. As such, it is in­te­gral for ex­pec­tant moms to put in full ef­fort in cre­at­ing a strong start for their ba­bies dur­ing this cru­cial pe­riod.

The good news is that the sim­ple choices moms-to-be make ev­ery day can have a big im­pact on their child. From avoid­ing stress to ex­er­cis­ing reg­u­larly, preg­nant women can help gear their ba­bies up for suc­cess later in life.

Here are three sim­ple and easy steps I listed for preg­nant women on how they can boost their ba­bies’ brain growth and de­vel­op­ment.

1. Avoid stress

The stress hor­mones in a mother’s body can neg­a­tively af­fect her baby. So when she ex­pe­ri­ences se­vere stress, the baby in­side her womb may get ex­posed to un­healthy lev­els of stress hor­mones, which hin­ders baby’s brain de­vel­op­ment.

In fact, a newly-de­vel­oped scan­ning tech­nique al­lowed a team of re­searchers from Wayne State Univer­sity to ex­am­ine the neu­ral ac­tiv­ity of 47 fe­tuses, between 30 and 37 weeks of ges­ta­tion. They re­cruited the par­tic­i­pat­ing moth­ers from a low-re­source and high­stress ur­ban set­ting. Most of them are ex­posed to high lev­els of de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety, worry, and stress. This study re­vealed that highly-stressed moth­ers had fe­tuses with re­duced ef­fi­ciency in how their neu­ral func­tional sys­tems are or­ga­nized. It fur­ther con­firmed a long-held the­ory claim­ing that stress is not good for the baby’s brain de­vel­op­ment while in the womb.

2. Stay ac­tive

Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, ex­er­cis­ing dur­ing preg­nancy is gen­er­ally safe. In fact, preg­nant women who were phys­i­cally ac­tive be­fore they got preg­nant can re­main ac­tive dur­ing ges­ta­tion as long as it is com­fort­able and there are no other health con­di­tions. In ad­di­tion to help­ing ex­pec­tant moms build their stamina dur­ing preg­nancy, ex­er­cis­ing is also said to sup­port the baby’s brain de­vel­op­ment.

The Univer­sity de Mon­treal and its af­fil­i­ated CHU Sainte-Jus­tine chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal, con­ducted a ran­dom­ized, con­trolled study on the ef­fects of ma­ter­nal ex­er­cise on a child’s brain de­vel­op­ment. The team of re­searchers ran­domly as­signed preg­nant women (dur­ing the start of their sec­ond trimester) ei­ther to an ex­er­cise group or to a seden­tary group. Women in the ex­er­cise group per­formed at least 20 min­utes of car­dio­vas­cu­lar ex­er­cise three times per week at a mod­er­ate in­ten­sity while those in the seden­tary group did not ex­er­cise.

At eight to 12 days af­ter birth, the ba­bies of the women who par­tic­i­pated in the study went through an elec­troen­cephalo­gram (EEG) test, which records elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­ity in the brain us­ing small, me­tal discs (elec­trodes) at­tached to the scalp. The EEG test re­vealed that ba­bies born to moth­ers who were phys­i­cally ac­tive had a more ma­ture cere­bral ac­ti­va­tion, sug­gest­ing that their brains de­vel­oped more quickly.

3. Fo­cus on the es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents

It is es­sen­tial for preg­nant women to get the right bal­ance of nu­tri­ents to pro­vide for their ba­bies’ growth and brain de­vel­op­ment. For in­stance, women are en­cour­aged to take at least 400 mi­cro­grams (mcg), or 0.4 mil­ligrams (mg) of folic acid be­fore con­cep­tion and dur­ing preg­nancy. This man­made form of a B vi­ta­min is es­sen­tial in the pro­duc­tion of red blood cells. It also helps prevent neu­ral tube de­fects (NTD), like spina bi­fida, by which the brain and/ or spinal cord do not fully de­velop. To meet the di­etary re­quire­ment for folic acid or fo­late, Food and Nu­tri­tion Re­search In­sti­tute (FNRI) ex­plained that all women of child-bear­ing age can take sup­ple­ments with folic acid in ad­di­tion to eat­ing foods high in fo­late.

An­other es­sen­tial nu­tri­ent that women should have dur­ing preg­nancy is DHA, which is not syn­the­sized by the body and can only be ob­tained through diet or sup­ple­men­ta­tion. This omega-3 fatty acid is im­por­tant for a de­vel­op­ing fe­tus’s eyes, ner­vous sys­tem, and over­all cog­ni­tive de­vel­op­ment. Of­ten called as a brain food, DHA also helps with the de­vel­op­ment of myelin sheath, a coat­ing sur­round­ing the brain’s many ax­ons, which al­lows the nerve cells to com­mu­ni­cate more quickly.

Preg­nant women may also con­sider drink­ing PROMAMA®, a de­li­cious vanilla tast­ing nu­tri­tional ma­ter­nal milk drink de­signed to sup­port them dur­ing prepreg­nancy, preg­nancy, and lac­ta­tion. It is sci­en­tif­i­cally for­mu­lated with the es­sen­tial and im­por­tant nu­tri­ents needed to sup­port the baby’s phys­i­cal and men­tal de­vel­op­ment in the womb, such as Folic Acid, DHA, Choline, Io­dine, and Iron.*

Preg­nancy is an im­por­tant time for a woman to take ut­most care of her phys­i­cal and men­tal health. This in­cludes fol­low­ing a healthy life­style and mak­ing good choices. By do­ing this, preg­nant women are likely to main­tain a healthy preg­nancy and help their ba­bies get the best start in life so they can have a brighter to­mor­row. PR

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