In a recent study, Canadian researchers from the University of Alberta found that one of the factors contributing to improved cognitive development in children was the amount of fruit their mothers ate during pregnancy.

The scientists studied 688 one-year-old babies, who were controlled for factors otherwise affecting their learning and development, such as family income and parental education. They found that the mothers who ate six to seven portions of fruit per day — including juices — had children with IQs six or seven points higher on the standard scale at one year old.

“It is quite a substantial difference – that is half of a standard deviation,” explains Dr Mandhane, the study’s senior author. “We know that the longer a child is in the womb, the further they develop – and having one more serving of fruit per day in a mother’s diet provides her baby with the same benefit as being born a whole week late,” he said.

To further build on the research, Mandhane teamed with Francois Bolduc from Alberta University, who researches the genetic basis of cognition in humans and fruit flies.

“Flies are very different from humans but, surprisingly, they have 85 per cent of the genes involved in human brain function, making them a great model to study the genetics of memory,” said Bolduc.

“To be able to improve memory in individuals without genetic mutation is exceptional, so we were extremely interested in understanding the correlation seen between increased prenatal fruit intake and higher cognition,” he said.

Bolduc showed that flies born after being fed increased prenatal fruit juice had significantly better memory ability, similar to the results shown by Mandhane with one-year-old infants.

The findings were published in the journal EbioMedicine. The scientists also plan to study the impact of fruit consumption on cognitive functions such as planning, organizing and working memory.

Source: DNA India