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Study: Eating Six or Seven Servings of Fruit a Day During Pregnancy Can Boosts Babies' Cognitive Development

May 26, 2016 08:00 AM EDT
A new study suggests that increased fruit consumption during pregnancy can lead to significant increases in infant cognitive performance. (Photo : Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

A new study shows that expecting mothers who consumed more fruits during pregnancy were more likely to give birth to children with better cognitive performance.

It has been widely accepted that eating more fruits can decrease the risk of negative health conditions, including stroke and heart disease, but a new study published in the journal EBioMedicine suggests that the health benefits of fruits can begin as early as in the womb.

For the study, researchers analyzed data of 688 children from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study. Researchers controlled other factors affecting the child's learning and development. These factors include family income, paternal and maternal education, and the gestational age of the child.

Using a traditional IQ scale as model, researchers discovered that children with mothers who ate six or seven servings of fruit or fruit juice a day placed six or seven points higher on the scale at one year of age.

"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," said Piush Mandhane, senior author of the paper and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, in a statement.

To further understand the connection between prenatal fruit consumption and the baby's cognitive performance, researchers conducted series of experiments on fruit flies. According to the study fruit flies have 85 percent of genes involved in human brain function, making them a great model to study the genetics of memory.

The researchers discovered, flies born after being fed increased prenatal fruit juice had significantly better memory ability, suggesting that brain function affected by fruit and the mechanisms involved have been maintained through evolution, and conserved across species.

Even their findings look promising, researchers warned pregnant women on going overboard in their fruit consumption. Researchers noted that increase intake of natural sugars are linked to potential complications such as gestational diabetes and high birthweight.

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