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Pregnant Women Can Prevent Brain Problems That Could Impact Their Unborn Baby

Women can now prevent fetal brain problems such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, and Schizophrenia in their unborn child- if they take adequate precautionary measures against the flu, and increase their intake in choline during their pregnancy.

According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, led by members of the University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, prenatal maternal infections and viruses like the flu have a direct correlation with fetal brain problems. This can be a cause of mental illness for the baby as it grows into a child during its later stage of life. It's scary, but the normal flu can also be a reason for birth defects and other health-related issues in a newborn.

Choline, a vital Vitamin B nutrient, can prevent the child from developing fetal brain problems. As noted by the professor of psychiatry for the University of Colorado School of Medicine and MD Robert Freedman, “We found that higher levels of choline prevent fetal brain problems from developing, even when the mother is infected. Choline supplements in pregnancy can have a lifelong benefit for the infant."

The study was conducted by measuring the baby's brain development in the uterus and immediately after birth. A reduction in the response inhibition has been observed in babies whose mothers have been infected by flu or similar viruses. The response inhibition is the ability to control or delay an action rather than displaying impulsive behavior.

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Some other key findings of the paper published in Journal of Pediatrics on March 14, 2019 are:

  • There has been a dip in Response inhibition by 27 percent in newborns when their mothers had an infection, in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. However, ladies with higher choline levels during those first 16 weeks had lesser impact on the children.
  • Behavioral patterns have been reported by the parents after one year and it has been observed that children whose mothers had a low level of choline and had been infected during the specified period, have notably decreased ability to pay attention, play quietly and cuddle with their parents. On the contrary, the same effects have not been observed in babies whose mothers had a higher level of choline.
  • When measured on the Self Regulation scale, it has also been noted that higher levels of choline enhanced Self Regulation in the children of women with infection as compared to the normal or poor level of choline level.

While the virus in a mother’s body during pregnancy may not make the baby fall sick in the uterus, it has the ability to cause grave fetal health consequences, which might be a cause of concern in the future. Due to various hormonal changes during pregnancy, the mother’s body becomes vulnerable to flu, cough and common cold.

While it's challenging to stay away from these viruses, a pregnant woman can protect the fetus by increasing their intake of choline. However, most women consume less than the specified limit of choline consumption (450 mg of choline per day). Eating foods high in choline is important to increase your level of this nutrient. Supplements are also being made available to meet the required intake of choline. These are the best ways to stave off any brain problems that could plague your unborn baby.

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