Eat fruits while pregnant to improve infant cognition, according to a new study from the University of Alberta.
The study “Prenatal fruit juice exposure enhances memory consolidation in male post-weanling Sprague-Dawley rats” found that infant animal models of mothers who eat fruits while pregnant showed much better performance on tests of memory. The results are also consistent with a previous CHILD Cohort Study.
“Our research followed up on results from the original CHILD Cohort Study, which found that fruit consumption in pregnant mothers influences infant measures of cognition up to one year after birth,” said Claire Scavuzzo, co-lead author of the study and postdoctoral researcher in the Faculty of Science’s Department of Psychology.
“Although the findings from this study were exciting, they could not establish that fruit consumption, rather than other factors, caused the improvements on infant cognition,” added Scavuzzo.
The study’s findings mirrored the data found in humans and fruit flies. “In a controlled, isolated way we were able to confirm a role for prenatal fruit exposure on the cognitive development of newborns,” explained Scavuzzo.
“We see this as especially valuable information for pregnant mothers, as this offers a nonpharmacological, dietary intervention to boost infant brain development,” she added.
Meanwhile, Rachel Ward-Flanagan, co-lead author and PhD student studying under the supervision of Professor Clayton Dickson, emphasized the significant cognitive benefit for the babies of mothers who consume more fruit during pregnancy.
“The idea that nutrition may also impact mental health and cognition has only recently started to gain traction,” said Ward-Flanagan.
“People want to be able give their kids the best possible start in life, and from our findings, it seems that a diet enriched with fruit is a possible way to do so.”