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Can you boost your Baby’s IQ before she/he is born?

Scientific opinion is divided on whether we can boost a baby’s IQ in-utero. What we know for a fact is that deficiency of certain nutrients in diet can be associated or deficiency of certain nutrients can hamper cognitive development of infants like (pick one), with learning disabilities, language development problems, delayed development of motor skills, lower IQ and behaviour impairment.

So here are the nutrients that have a meaningful impact on optimum brain-development and brain-function in your baby.

Iodine is essential for brain formation and also ensures normal thyroid function. Good sources of iodine are: sea vegetables (kelp, hiziki), iodized salt, cranberries and Greek yogurt. Make sure you get lots of these in your pregnancy diet.

Choline is a micronutrient that plays a primary role in brain development, especially the parts associated with recollection and memory. Good sources of choline are eggs, dairy products, and grains.

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that has a major impact on the production of neurons, the part of the nervous system that initiates impulses and sends messages from the brain to the rest of the body and back. DHA is best found in salmon, walnuts, ground flax seeds and eggs.

Folic acid is a pregnancy must-have. At a minimum, you need 400 micrograms per day from your food when you are pregnant. It is advisable to start an early dose of folic acid, in the months prior to conception, and continue throughout your pregnancy. This aids in lowering the risk of brain and spinal defects at the start. Folic acid best found in green leafy vegetables like spinach, lentils, beans, broccoli and citrus fruits.

Exercise, Surprised? Here’s a fact: any diet is best supported with a good workout. Exercise not only gives you the stamina you need for labour and delivery, it may also strengthen your baby’s brain. As per a study in the Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, children of moms who exercised during pregnancy scored higher on language and motor skills tests.

So even though the relationship between diet, exercise and higher-IQs for babies is a work-in-progress, we know for a fact that poor nutrition and exercise may hamper your child’s development. So make sure you get these important nutrients in your pregnancy diet. And shake it up with a good workout!

Dr. Rita Bakshi

Consultant - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Panchsheel Park