by Mirta Desir
With so much research out there on what parents (and parents-to-be) can do to have a smarter and emotionally well balanced child, a parent may naturally feel overwhelmed. But it doesn’t take a genius to raise a smarter child. Although a baby’s intelligence is somewhat determined by genetics, research shows that parents can do a lot to raise (or lower) their child’s intellect. This journey begins at conception – well before mom takes that first pregnancy test. Thus, we have scoured medical journals, spoken to moms and dads and have summarized the nine little secrets to help raise a smarter, healthier child from the day that mommy-to-be takes her first pregnancy test until graduation (from kindergarten). Here are the nine (not so little) secrets we discovered . . .
Secret # 2: Balanced, Healthy Diet During Pregnancy? More Likely a Healthy, Smarter Baby
The foundation of a baby’s intelligence begins at conception. That golden moment when sperm meets egg. Did you know that the closer a pregnant woman is to giving birth at 40 weeks, the better it is for the baby? Research on the long-term effects of prematurity on higher-order cognitive abilities such as memory and attention* shows that:
- people who were born extremely premature, with a birth weight of less than 3.3 lbs, generally scored lower on tests of executive function than babies born full-term;
- these same people take more time to complete these tasks;
- adults who were born premature scored 8.4 points lower on average than those who were born full-term;
- children born at 37 weeks and 38 weeks have significantly lower reading scores as compared to children born at 39, 40 or 41 weeks; and
- math scores are lower for children born at 37 or 38 weeks.
In general, it is best for a woman to have a healthy-balanced diet before she becomes pregnant. So, if mom-to-be is eating well and working out before conception, then she is already maximizing her child’s chance at being smart and healthy. But it’s not too late to start a balanced healthy diet during pregnancy. According to the National Institute of Health, a balanced, healthy diet during pregnancy can help prevent:
- anemia and infections in the mother
- poor healing
- a premature baby
- a low birth weight baby
A pregnant woman can also boost her baby’s brain development with:
- proper weight gain,
- moderate exercise and
- stress reduction.
And the best thing a pregnant woman can do before giving birth? Not inducing labor before 39 weeks, unless medically necessary.
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