Photo: Getty Images
Scientists have long known that women considering pregnancy should take prenatal vitamins. This not only bolsters the mother’s body but may also give the unborn baby more of a fighting chance. What’s good to know is that scientists have confirmed, through the latest result of clinical trials done in rural Nepal, that folic acid and iron helps developing babies in the areas of nerve development, biochemistry and metabolism.
One staggering fact is that many individuals have an iron deficiency, affecting two billion people worldwide. But the ramifications of this deficiency are quite serious. Babies can be affected as early as 28 days after conception, according to WebMD. Birth defects of the brain or the spinal cord, like spina bifida, may develop. With this disease, the spinal cord may suffer damage, causing different levels of paralysis, incontinence, and in some cases, mental retardation.
So it’s easy to see why iron and folic acid are important and even easier to see why scientists were excited about their findings. Reuters stated that Parul Christian of John Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health evaluated 676 school-aged children whose mothers participated in the previously-mentioned clinical trial while they were pregnant. Out of all the children, 80 percent were enrolled in school. Christian then followed these children and regularly evaluated their neurocognitive functions and outcomes. The result revealed that these children’s intellectual and motor ability were impacted in a very significant way, depending on their mother's intake of these nutrients during pregnancy.
What can we learn from this? Prenatal vitamins are very important to your baby’s health in general--not to mention the fact that they may help you have the makings of a little Einstein. But remember, it also helps to have a healthy diet since supplements aren’t the perfect substitute for these nutrients. For example, great sources of folic acid are green leafy veggies, nuts, beans and citrus fruits. When it comes to iron, great sources are green leafy veggies, liver, iron-fortified whole grain and beans.