Enhancing Children’s Cognitive Abilities: The Impact of Increased Choline Intake During Pregnancy

Studies have revealed that 7-year-old children achieved better results on challenging tasks requiring sustained concentration if their mothers consumed twice the recommended choline intake during gestation.

These children were then compared with children born to mothers who consumed the recommended amounts of choline during gestation, and results suggest that this dose wasn’t sufficient to meet fetal brain needs.

Choline, which can be found in cruciferous vegetables, nuts, legumes, egg yolks, poultry, fish and lean red meat sources is not commonly included in prenatal vitamins; over 90% of expectant mothers fail to meet the recommended intake amount.

Studies involving rodent models have consistently demonstrated that adding extra choline to maternal diets provides offspring with long-term cognitive advantages, including enhanced memory and attention throughout life, as well as neuroprotection against cognitive difficulties caused by prenatal stress, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), fetal alcohol exposure, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease or Down syndrome.

As part of the study, all participants consumed a prepared diet with an increased choline amount during their 3rd trimester of pregnancy. Half consumed an adequate daily consumption level of 450 milligrams; the other half consumed 930 daily milligrams; this is double what is typically advised.

At 7 years old, children born to women receiving either 480 daily milligrams of choline daily or 930 daily milligrams maintained high accuracy levels on sustained attention tasks; those from group receiving either amount showed a gradual decrease in accuracy while children from both groups performed similarly on comparable sustained attention tasks utilizing analogous sustained attention tasks. This result mirrors similar studies conducted with rodents supplemented or deprive maternal choline treatments using similar sustained attention tasks.

By showing that supplemental maternal choline produces similar attention benefits in human offspring to animals, these results demonstrate that all the neuroprotective and cognitive benefits observed in rodents could also be seen in humans.

These results extend a prior study from these same researchers which demonstrated that supplementing maternal choline increased processing speeds during their first year of life in children who received supplements.

By showing that prenatal supplementation continues to bring benefits long into childhood, these results provide evidence for its importance for cognitive development in children.

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