Folate importance is often the nutrient that is heavily discussed in pregnancy. Choline is not discussed enough as it plays an essential part in the development of the central nervous system as there is evidence of its effects on neural tube closure and cognition.
A mother delivers large amounts of choline across the placenta to the fetus and post birth she delivers large amounts of choline in milk to the infant. This emphasises the importance of optimal intake of choline during pregnancy. Adequate amounts are not generally found in prenatal supplements so it is imperative that pregnant women (and in pre conception) consume choline rich foods in the diet.
Choline rich foods include: egg yolk, liver, lecithin, brewers yeast, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables and legumes.
Choline is essential for optimal fetal outcome (birth defects and brain development) and maternal liver and placental function.
Research studies in animals and humans suggest maternal choline supplementation during pregnancy can benefit important physiologic systems such as offspring cognitive function, response to stress and cerebral inhibition.
A 2015 animal study found that high intakes of choline during early development can prevent or dramatically reduce deficits in social behaviour and anxiety in autistic mouse models revealing a novel strategy for the treatment and prevention of autism spectrum disorders.
Another 2015 study found that prenatal choline deficiency has profound effects as it can delay neurodevelopment. The authors performed a study on pigs (sows) one group were fede a dholine deficient diet and the others fed a choline sufficient diet, they use MRI assessments to determine their results which found smaller brain volumes in the pigs fed a choline deficient diet.
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Jiang X, West A.A, Claudill M.A. 2014 “Maternal choline supplementation: a nutritional approach for improving offspring health?” Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2014 May;25(5):263-73
Langley E.A, Krykbaeva M, Blusztajn J.K, Mellot T.J. 2015 “High maternal choline consumption during pregnancy and nursing alleviates deficits in social interaction and improves anxiety-like behaviors in the BTBR T+Itpr3tf/J mouse model of autism.” Behav Brain Res. 2015 Feb 1;278:210-20.
Mudd AT, Getty CM, Sutton BP, Dilger RN. 2015 “Perinatal choline deficiency delays brain development and alters metabolite concentrations in the young pig. Nutr Neurosci. 2015 Jun 5.
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