During pregnancy, we always make sure that mother should be as healthy as she can be in order to promote the growth of the fetus inside the womb. Science has already indicated that the health of the mother also dictates the health of the unborn child. One of the effects of poor nutrition and poor health during pregnancy is the delivery of small for gestational age or low birth weight babies.
Effects of Low Birth Weight
We have also seen the effects of low birth weight in the overall physical health of new born babies. Low birth weight babies tend to develop hypothermia and neonatal infection as compared to new-borns with normal weight. However, recent studies also indicated that low birth weight may not only cause physical problems, but may also lead to children having impaired learning abilities.
The research specifically found that low birth weight new-borns and those who had poor diet during childhood had developed poor learning and impaired behaviour as children, especially in the case of girls. Specifically, the research found that low birth weight girls had an inability to learn and had poorer competence as they grew compared to normal babies.
The study involved looking into the national birth registry in Taiwan. The aim of the study was to look into the possible relationship between birth weight, diet during childhood and the learning outcomes of children aged 6 to 13 years.
The results of the study revealed that the social and cognitive development of girls was significantly connected to their birth weight and diet. The study found that girls with a birth weight of less than 2.7kg or 2,700 grams were more likely to develop problems in relationships and have an inability to learn. These girls also reported being socially impaired and unhappy.
The results of the study did not show the same in the case of boys; thereby, there is no relationship between low birth weight in boys and problems in learning.
The results implicate the importance of nutrition in brain development of children. Based on this, it is essential for pregnant mothers to take care during their pregnancy in order to ensure the best health and future learning of their children.
What Mothers Can Do?
In this regard, there are certain foods that need to be consumed during pregnancy not only to support the normal growth of the fetus, but also to ensure a healthy brain and better learning as their child grows. The following are the most important nutrients that should be included in the diet of a pregnant mother:
1. Folic acid
Folic acid is needed to promote the development of the central nervous system; thereby preventing neural tube defects. Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables.
The developing brain of the fetus needs adequate amounts of proteins for better growth. Proteins are best obtained from fish, chicken and other lean meats. Pregnant women should also increase their intake of legumes for their added fiber content.
Iodine is another macro mineral that is needed by pregnant women to promote growth and development. Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormones, which aids the metabolism.
The brain needs adequate amounts of oxygen in order to function adequately. Iron is an important mineral that promotes haemoglobin production. Haemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen into the cells, thereby promoting brain health.
Pregnant mothers should also ensure to avoid smoking as this may lead to low birth weight and premature delivery. Once women become pregnant or if they are planning to become pregnant, adequate nutrition should be a priority in order to maximize the healthy growth of the fetus as well as preventing learning difficulties when the child is growing.
About the Author
Dr. Amarendra writes for ehealthwall and syndromespedia where both sites discusses on diseases and conditions. He lives in India and he finished his doctor course year ago. He enjoys sharing health tips at various health blogs and communities.