Eat fruit, make clever babies

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A new study indicates that babies whose moms consumed more fruit during pregnancy, showed more advanced cognitive development.

ScienceDaily.com reports that moms who ate 6 or 7 servings of fruit a day (also including fruit juice), had babies who scored 6 or 7 points higher on the IQ scale.

This is significant, if you consider that two-thirds of the population has IQs between 85 and 115, with an average of 100. An extra 6 or 7 points can really set your child apart.

Piush Mandhane, senior author of the paper at the University of Alberta, published in the EbioMedicine journal, points out, “We know that the longer a child is in the womb, the further they develop – and having one more serving of fruit per day in a mother's diet provides her baby with the same benefit as being born a whole week later."

Buzzing news

The findings are based partly on a study of 688 children, but also on research into the fruit fly.

Fruit flies are known for their memory and ability to learn. And flies that were fed prenatal fruit juice in experiments by Buldoc, had a significantly better memory ability, he continues.

Why do we care? Well, strangely, we share 85% of genes involved with our brain function with flies.

And the same genes involved in helping a fruit fly to remember, are the ones studied in intellectual disability and autism, says professor Francois Bolduc, also at the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

What Mandhane would like to find out next, is whether this early start in life persists in children as they grow older.

And whether fruit also helps children’s development in other areas, such as planning and organising.

But don’t go bananas

Before you gorge on fruit, beware of the risks of too much fructose (the sugar found in fruit).

Since we now know fructose can alter our genes in the brain, too much can naturally have negative effects.

ScienceDaily.com also reports on another recent study by UCLA has found that high levels of fructose have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD (which seems to be reversible when taking the omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, but rather be cautious).

Of course, high sugar intake during pregnancy is also directly linked to an increased risk of gestational diabetes, which can be serious.

Specifically look out for fruit juices, which contain higher-than-normal levels of fructose and none or little of the fibre necessary to absorb these excess sugars in the digestive tract.

High levels of fructose are also found in cold drinks sweetened with corn syrup so watch out for these on food labels.

So how much should we eat? A normal daily intake of 5 fruit and/or vegetables a day would give both you and your baby an advantage. 

Do you eat enough fruit? Send your comments to chatback@parent24.com.

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