A smarter baby

Nearly 400,000 babies will be born in the United States this year and more parents than ever are heeding expert advice on how to deliver a smarter baby. Here’s the low down on boosting your baby’s brainpower.

Little Grace is one day old and her proud mother Melissa Viviano couldn’t be happier. She is listening to research when it comes to boosting her baby’s IQ — especially the information on breast-feeding.

“I know that you can become mentally ill if you’re malnourished, so why wouldn’t it work the other way? Nutrition is probably a big part of it,” says Melissa.

That’s right. In fact a new study from the University of Kentucky found breast-fed babies scored an average of five points higher on IQ tests than formula-fed babies.

Gregory Utter, M.D., an obstetrician/gynecologist at St. John Hospital in Detroit, Mich., says many studies support the claim.

“Babies who are breast-fed do have increased cognitive skills and better school performance later on. Any number of measures of neurologic outcomes are improved in babies who are breast-fed,” says Dr. Utter.

If you are pregnant, researchers say be finicky about fish and warn you may want to stay away from it. The National Research Council linked low baby IQs to mothers who ate polluted, freshwater fish.

Want another way to boost brainpower? Get a thyroid test. The New England Journal of Medicine found untreated, underactive thyroids can impact your child’s intelligence.

Dr. Utter explains, “Women with an under-active thyroid gland that doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone have an increased chance of having a baby with abnormal neurologic function.”

However experts say don’t worry. Medication can solve thyroid problems.

One more brain booster? Studies have shown increasing your folic acid intake during pregnancy can make a difference. Four hundred micrograms a day may reduce the risk of spina bifida and even Down syndrome in your child.

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