Extra choline during pregnancy may protect babies of mothers with coronavirus
Choline is a vitamin B nutrient found in many vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy products as well as fish, beef, poultry, eggs, some beans and nuts and in dietary supplements. It is essential for healthy brain development in the foetus.
Researchers from the University of Colorado claim that COVID-19 will have an impact on the fetal brain similar to that of other respiratory viruses. They have found that boosting choline levels in pregnancy can protect the unborn baby’s brain from development issues that may impact on the likelihood of their having behavioural problems and mental illness in adult life.
The researchers analyzed the effects on infant behaviour, if the mother had suffered from a respiratory virus during pregnancy, by measuring the IBQ-R Regulation dimension – which is a measure of the development of attention and other self-regulatory behaviours. Lower IBQ-R Regulation at 12 months is associated with problems in concentration and social behaviour in later childhood. The study found that when infected mothers had higher choline levels in pregnancy, their babies had significantly increased 3-month IBQ-R scores on the Regulation dimension compared to babies of mothers who had viral infections in pregnancy but with lower choline levels.
The study concludes that pregnant women will often need to take dietary supplements to achieve adequate choline levels to protect their unborn babies. As data from the COVID-19 pandemic will not be available for several years, this study may provide valuable information for women on the importance of taking daily choline supplements to buffer the fetal brain from the possible detrimental impact of coronavirus and decrease the risk of their having future mental illness.
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