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Dieting in pregnancy could mean lower math score in child

Posted:  Monday, September 14, 2015

Every parent would love their child to be good at the subject of mathematics. However, if weight conscious mothers diet during pregnancy, then they can kiss this dream trait in the child goodbye. A recent study found that siblings whose mothers dieted during pregnancy scored lower in math at 5 years when compared to siblings whose mothers were exposed to higher prenatal caloric intake.

For the study, the mothers completed a retrospective report of their diets during pregnancy. The children, aged 5 to 14 years, were scored on the Peabody Individual Achievement Test, which measured reading and math achievement. The results were reported in the journal Child Development.

According to the researchers, prenatal dieting was not associated with reading or comprehension capabilities. However, a statistically significant association was found for math achievement. The researchers had controlled confounding genetic factors that could influence the offspring’s academic achievement.

Notably, African American women reported dieting during pregnancy and they recorded a higher weight during pregnancy when compared to mothers who did not slack on calories. This set of mothers had lower IQs, education and reported lower family income compared to mothers who did not diet in pregnancy.

The study results pave the way for preventive intervention as it would help in identifying high-risk mothers and providing them with prenatal nutrition education. This could improve foetal cognitive and educational outcomes. So, advice to mothers: Do the math and eat healthy in pregnancy.

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