How do processed foods during pregnancy affect babies’ neurodevelopment?

Verified on 10/28/2022 by PasseportSanté
Comment les aliments transformés pendant la grossesse nuisent au neurodéveloppement des bébés ?

We know that nutrition during pregnancy plays an essential role in the development of babies.

To understand how food influences the neurological development of young children, researchers have looked at the link between the mother’s nutritional quality during pregnancy and the child’s cognitive development.

Link between the mother’s nutritional quality during pregnancy and the child’s cognitive development

The study was carried out as part of the Elfe cohort, the first large-scale French longitudinal study supported by the Institut national d’études démographiques (INED) and Inserm. Elfe follows 18,000 children born in 2011, from birth to adulthood.

Blandine de Lauzon-Guillain, Director of Research at the Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale (Inserm), and her team collected dietary data from mothers during the last three months of pregnancy.

The children’s neurodevelopment was assessed by questionnaire at 1 and 2 years, then by an interviewer in a face-to-face interview at 3 and a half years.

Better-quality food during pregnancy associated with higher development scores in children

After taking into account family characteristics (such as parents’ socio-economic level, parent-child interactions and the child’s diet), the results of the analysis showed that a higher quality diet during pregnancy was associated with higher global development scores in thechild aged 1, 2 and 3 and a half years.

Another finding of the study is that « the more fruit, vegetables and fish pregnant women eat, the better their child’s development scores up to the age of 3 and a half « , explains Blandine de Lauzon-Guillain.

Conversely, high consumption of processed foods and deli meats during pregnancy was associated with poorer cognitive development.