Researchers are discovering that IQ is impacted in its neonatal and natal delivery stages. The fetal brain develops dramatically as structures and connections form, providing the foundation for all future development. The fetal environment plays a critical role in these early neural processes, for better or for worse. Scientists now know that exposure to maternal stress can sometimes have deleterious effects on the fetus, depending on the cause, timing, duration, and intensity of stress. Fortunately, postnatal interventions, such as a secure parent-infant bond and an enriched environment, can buffer the potential negative consequences.
Examine the factors carefully and you’ll discover multiple ways you can biggie-up the brains of the next generation.
- Full Term - Babies delivered at 40+ weeks have an average 4.9 points higher IQ than premature infants. “the longer a baby stays in its mother’s womb, the better, when it comes to better overall health as well as increased brain development. This goes for even full term infants (37-41 weeks), where the extra time can make a big difference in developing better academic skills later on.
- Pregnant women who exercise 30 minutes a day can increase their baby’s IQ by 8 points, claims researchers.
- Omega 3 - Adding Omega 3 into Mom’s bloodstream will add 7.55 points to their Verbal IQ.
- Expectant mothers who received iodine supplementation in geographical areas that had inadequate iodine in the diet elevated their children’s IQs by 12.45 IQ points.
- In addition, it should be noted that throughout all stages of the pregnancy, development of the fetal brain remains vulnerable to a number of factors including the physical and emotional being of the mother, as well as the environment.
While brain development stages begin from the first week and continue to the 40th week, the actual organ does not begin to form until the third week of gestation. By the end of the first month the three brain sections (the forebrain, middle brain and hind brain) begin to develop, along with the optic nerve. By the sixth week, one is able to detect the formation of the brain hemispheres as well as some wave activity. This is also when the neural tube (precursor of the spinal column) also closes.
By the seventh week, the brain is shown to grow at a rapid rate and by the tenth week it forms 250,000 neurons per minute. At birth it will contain approximately 100 billion neurons. However, from the third to sixth month, the brain, itself, remains relatively small compared to it size and shape at delivery time. By the 19th week of the pregnancy, the brain becomes capable of forming millions of motor neurons, allowing the fetus to move its muscles voluntarily, and there is further growth of the fore brain separating it into the left and right cerebral hemispheres.
During the 20th week, the nerve cells create complex connections and sensory perception with the brain and the entire body. This development carries on until the age of 5 or 6.
By the 24th week, the brain begins to regulate all the body’s functions and heightens its senses, and completes all phases of its development during the third trimester (week 29-41).
Good overall nutrition is key to healthy brain development before birth.
Studies have been done on activities such as listening to music, meditating or doing yoga during pregnancy to promote fetal brain development in the womb.
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Dr Unnati Chavda
(Promoting pregnancy wellness)