Thursday, August 13, 2009

Choline improves baby's brain development, reduces birth defects

Posted by Kim
Found on Pampered Pregger and Beyond facebook page
Written by Rebecca Lacko for the LA Parenting Examiner

Studies show that, in pregnancy, choline plays a critical role in brain development, and may reduce the risk of neural-tube defects such as spina bifida by as much as fifty percent.

Dr. Gary Shaw, a research director of the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program reported in a paper in the American Journal of Epidemiology (2004), that women whose daily choline intake was greater than 498mg had about half the risk of delivering a baby with a neural-tube defect, compared with expectant mothers whose choline intake was 290mg or less. Surprisingly, this reduction occurred independently of intake of folic acid. “Many of us have been targeting folic acid as the way to prevent birth defects, and this has certainly worked, ” Dr. Shaw says. ” But issues remain as to why it doesn’t work in everyone.”

In pregnancy, choline plays a critical role in brain development by helping regulate the transport of nutrients into and out of cells. It also forms acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory function, according to Dr. Steven Zeisel, a recognized expert in choline, who published his findings in the Journal of Neurochemistry (2004).

Choline, a vitamin B-like compound, is found in high quantities in:

* eggs
* beef and chicken liver
* wheat germ
* soybeans

The National Academies of Science recommends nursing mothers increase choline intake to 550mg—the equivalence of two whole eggs.

Milk is an especially critical source of calcium during pregnancy, and while this chart does show milk as a source of choline, it is important to note that processed milk is rather low in choline because the pasteurization all but destroys the naturally occurring choline. (Studies show raw goats milk and raw cow milk are very high in choline and many other important enzymes, vitamins and nutrients.) Unpasteurized dairy products are generally not recommended for expectant mothers; Hormonal changes during pregnancy have an effect on the mother’s immune system that lead to an increased susceptibility to listeriosis.

For more info: For more info on how choline helps during pregnancy, see Your guide to the healthiest pregnancy. You’ll also learn how Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of both post-partum depression and preterm labor.

No comments:

Post a Comment