There is always the fear that outbreaks of diseases may have an adverse effect on an unborn child. This is especially true if a mother gets any infection during her pregnancy. This is a genuine concern and one that has plagued experts studying the COVID-19 pandemic and the implications it has for pregnant mothers and their unborn babies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), say that COVID-19 will impact foetal brain development like other common corona respiratory viruses. This is worrying indeed. According to experts, previous pandemics have resulted in significantly increased levels of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder and attention-deficit disorder in the offspring. But scientists say that there may a way around this problem.
A new study at the University of Colorado in Canada says that choline supplements may be able to keep your unborn baby safe from the current pandemic that is ravaging the world. Pregnant women who take extra choline supplements may be able to mitigate the negative impact that viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19, may have on their babies, say researchers from the University of Colorado in Canada. Choline is a vitamin B nutrient available in various foods and dietary supplements. It is critical to fetal brain development. The Journal of Psychiatric Research published this study.
About the study
For the purpose of the study, researchers specifically looked at whether higher prenatal choline levels helped protect the developing brain of the foetus even if the mother contracted a viral respiratory infection during early pregnancy. They saw that higher prenatal choline levels mitigate the impact of virus infection. The research team analysed the effects of the mother’s respiratory virus infection on the infant’s behaviour by measuring the infant’s IBQ-R Regulation dimension, which looks at the development of infant attention and other self-regulatory behaviours.
Lower IBQ-R Regulation at one year of age is associated with problems in attention and social behaviour in later childhood. This includes decreased reading readiness at four years and problems in concentration and conscientiousness through seven years of age.
Findings of the study – Want to keep your unborn baby safe from COVID-19?
According to the researchers, many interesting facts came to light during the course of the study. We highlight them here.
- Researchers saw that infants of mothers who had viral infections and higher choline levels had significantly increased 3-month IBQ-R scores against infants of mothers who had viral infections and lower choline levels.
- They also noticed that choline levels sufficient to protect the fetus often require dietary supplements.
- They did not see any association between increased maternal anxiety and depression in the viral-infected mothers and their infants’ IBQ-R Regulation.
- Based on the findings of the study, researchers say that phosphatidylcholine or choline supplements along with other prenatal vitamins may help buffer the foetal brain from the possible detrimental impact of Covid-19 and decrease the risk of future mental illness.