Intake of vitamin B during pregnancy may prevent prevent babies from brain disorders caused by cold or flu in pregnancy, says a latest study published in the Journal of Paediatrics. The study stressed upon the importance of choline in development of foetal brain power. Higher levels of choline were found to prevent brain problems and mental illness, like attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia, in babies even when the mother had cold or flu during pregnancy.
“Cold and flu are often unavoidable, even if the mother has had a flu shot. But cold and flu during pregnancy double the risk of future mental illnesses. More and more information show choline helps the baby’s brain develop properly,” said Robert Freedman, Professor at the University of Colorado in the US.
“We found higher levels of choline prevent foetal brain problems from developing, even when the mother is infected. Choline supplements in pregnancy can have a lifelong benefit for the infant,” Freedman said.
For the study, the team analysed prenatal maternal infection, C-Reactive Protein (CRP) — a marker of maternal inflammation — and the mothers’ choline levels. They assessed the brain development before birth by measuring the baby’s brain waves soon after birth.
The mothers who had a cold or flu during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy, it was observed that their newborns’ ability to cease or delay the effect on the brain decreased by 27 per cent.
Maternal flu also hampered children’s ability to pay attention and play.
The findings revealed that these effects were prevented if the mother had higher choline levels
While the body creates some choline on its own and it is also naturally present in certain foods, including liver, red meat and eggs, pregnant women are recommended 450 mg of choline a day to improve babies’ brain development.