Research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice during pregnancy can not only help a baby’s developing brain, but it also protects them from intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR). The problem is quite common in babies, so the preliminary evidence that the juice will help is good news. Something so simple can potentially save a baby’s life.
Babies who have IUGR grew at a slower rate than normal while they were in the womb. At birth, they usually weigh less than they should. In some cases, it could lead to brain injury or even still birth. It occurs because the baby didn’t get enough oxygen and nutrients, and the most common factor is placental insufficiency. Sometimes, it’s not attached properly or not working correctly, so the baby doesn’t get enough nutrients to grow steadily.
Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US studied 78 expecting mothers who were at the end of their second or third trimester. All of the participants’ babies had IUGR. They were given either a placebo or pomegranate juice. Results showed that the babies of those who drank the juice everyday had better brain development. This was measured through looking at different aspects of the brain: its injury, the macrostructure, the micro-structural organization, and the functional connectivity. Scientists didn’t observe differences in the macrostructure, but they did find significant differences in the white matter microstructure and functional connectivity.
The study suggests that polyphenols are the key to the improved brain development. It’s a class of antioxidants found in nuts, berries, red wine, and tea; pomegranates have especially high quantities of it. They are known to cross the brain-blood barrier, so scientists believe it has the potential to protect against neurodegenerative diseases.
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The effects need further study, but researchers believe that 230ml of pomegranate juice a day could significantly help a baby’s development. There are many factors to worry about when pregnant, and if a small glass of juice every day can help a lot, then many moms will have one less worry. A glass of juice a day is not a hard change to implement.