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Archive for December, 2013

How to Develop Your Baby’s Brain

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

There is many you can do to boost baby’s brainpower even before birth. The human brain begins developing between the first and second week of fetal development. Though genetics play a role, diet, exercise and even maternal stress levels also have an impact on your baby’s brain development.

Here are seven specific strategies to help your baby’s brain development :

Focus on folic acid

Including lots of folic acid in your pregnancy diet is crucial to baby’s developing brain. The US Department of Health recommends that pregnant women get 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid during pregnancy. Most women can’t get enough folic acid through foods alone, so it’s essential to take a daily prenatal vitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid.

Skip the swordfish

Avoid exposure to environmental toxins in your pregnancy diet, which can cause neurological damage to the developing brain. That means steer clear of fish high in mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish.

Fuel up on fish oil

Omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA) support baby’s brain development. The March of Dimes recommends that women consume at least 200 milligrams in a pregnancy diet and in a breastfeeding diet. Although foods such as low-mercury fatty fish (salmon, herring, sardines, freshwater trout or DHA-enriched foods) are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, you may want to consider taking a daily vitamin supplement that contains at least 200 mgs of DHA during pregnancy.

Don’t skimp on protein

Brain growth requires extra energy, so it’s important to increase your protein intake in your pregnancy diet. The Dana Guide to Brain Health, a reference from one of the leading philanthropic organizations supporting brain research, states that moms-to-be should ideally consume 6 to 7 ounces of protein-containing food per day (think a piece of chicken and a serving of yogurt). That’s roughly one-third more protein than you’d need pre-pregnancy.

Keep cool

Exercising throughout your pregnancy is a good idea, but avoid overheating — especially during the first trimester. According to the March of Dimes, a sustained core body temperature of 102.5 F or higher is associated with an increased risk for birth defects of the brain.

Relax

While low levels of stress during pregnancy are nothing to worry about, numerous studies have shown high levels (particularly in cases of mental or physical abuse) can have serious, long-lasting effects on the baby’s brain development. Getting away from dangerous relationships is especially critical during pregnancy, but when it comes to other sources of stress, adopting new coping skills can help.

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