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Child Development - Nutrients predict cognitive development, reduce autism symptoms

Vitamin D in mothers improves child cognition

Vitamin D plays a critical role in how embryonic cells develop and become specialized brain cells. In this study, doctors measured vitamin D levels in 1,503 healthy women during their second trimester, and followed up with IQ tests of their children at age four to six.

Each increase in mothers’ vitamin D level of 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood was linked to a 1.17 higher Full Scale IQ point score; a 1.17 higher Verbal IQ point score; and a 1.03 higher Nonverbal IQ point score, regardless of the race of the parents.

Commenting on the findings, doctors believe that adding vitamin D to prenatal nutrition may be especially relevant for Black and dark-skinned women whose greater melanin pigment inhibits vitamin D production, making them more likely to be deficient. Doctors recommend widespread prenatal vitamin D testing.

Reference: Journal of Nutrition; November, 2020, nxaa309, Published Online

Probiotics reduced autism symptoms

Growing evidence of a connection between gut, brain, and nervous system, has launched the new field of psychobiotics. Doctors believe probiotics may influence brain activity, improving behavior in children with autism spectrum disorder.

In this study, 63 preschoolers, average age 4.2 years, with or without gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, took a placebo or a comprehensive probiotic combination, at a dose of 900 billion bacteria per day for the first month, then 450 billion per day for five more months. Kids with and without GI symptoms saw clinically significant improvements in mood, feelings of well-being, sleep, and digestion. Doctors believe probiotics may stimulate the serotonin system to enhance brain-nervous system communication.

Reference: Frontiers in Psychiatry; September, 2020, 550593, Published Online


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