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By Allianz Worldwide Care | June 17, 2016
The study conducted by the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, published in the journal EbioMedicine, found that when expectant mothers consumed more fruit during pregnancy, they gave birth to children who performed better on developmental testing at 12 months old.
This is good news for expats (and their offspring!), as a recent survey revealed expats enjoy a healthier lifestyle and diet in their new country than in their homeland, as they often have easy access to a wide variety and abundance of fresh produce.
"We wanted to know if we could identify what factors affect cognitive development," said Piush Mandhane, senior author of the paper and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry "We found that one of the biggest predictors of cognitive development was how much fruit moms consumed during pregnancy. The more fruit moms had, the higher their child's cognitive development."
Using a traditional IQ scale as a model, Mandhane's study showed that if pregnant mothers ate six or seven servings of fruit or fruit juice a day, on average their infants placed six or seven points higher on the scale, than average, 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."
While the findings are encouraging, Mandhane cautions against going overboard on fruit consumption as potential complications such as gestational diabetes and high birthweight--conditions associated with increased intake of natural sugars--have not been fully researched.
Mandhane also says he will continue work in the field, with plans to examine if the benefits of prenatal fruit consumption persist in children over time. He will also be looking to determine if fruit can influence childhood development related to executive functioning--in areas such as planning, organising and working memory.
Mandhane made the discovery using data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study--a nationwide birth cohort study involving over 3,500 Canadian infants and their families.
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