Biologists tend to describe the phenotype of an organism as the uniquely identifiable characteristics or behaviors that you can see or measure.
One of the topics that has come up among the parents that have done high prenatal choline supplementation for their kids is what exactly all the observable changes are to our children compared to non high-choline supplemented kids. (Note: by "High prenatal choline supplementation - I'm talking between 1.5 grams a day and 3. 5 grams/day (or higher) during pregnancy).
Here is a list that I believe is representative of the phenotypical changes we see in the high choline kids:
1. Possibly a Higher Probability of Full Term Babies - our kids were both 41 weeks at birth (and so were virtually all our friends who also used choline) - and while there are many possible factors that might result in preterm birth - I suspect that good nutrition, and low stress (or low stress /low cortisol) experienced by the fetus is going to result in a higher probability of being full term. I've see research that if a mother-to-be takes folate / folic acid a year prior to conception - the rate of preterm birth is lower by 69% - and this suggests that Vitamin B like substances (like Choline) may have a roll in reducing risk of pre-term birth. Since its now known that less than full term babies have a much higher rate of a large number of neurodevelopmental and other issues - I think that high choline kids might be benefiting from the choline in many different ways.
2. More alert and awake - this is especially noticeable during the first 3 months when many children have a tendency to be less alert.
3. Fast to become full-night sleepers / Good Sleepers. Our children started sleeping through the night (i.e. 6 to 8 hours sleep) at around 10 weeks or so. I think that higher choline kids may (because the are less stressed) sleep better and sleep longer, earlier than regular kids who may be more sensitive and therefore wake up more frequently.
4. Faster learning - of languages, etc. - At our first child's 2 year checkup the pediatrician said (unprompted by us) that she was amazed at the verbal and cognitive development, and as our child chatted in full sentences during the exam. She sees hundreds of kids, and has been a pediatrician in one of the best parts of our city for over 15 years, and said it was rare to see a child so advanced at that age. Additionally, the 3 to 4 year old high choline kids I know speak two languages fluently, with vocabularies of several thousand words in each language. The children are also beginning to read at this age.
5. Low Stress Response to Higher Stress Situations - In talking with other parents - I think that one common feature our children share is that some common higher-stress situations are not perceived as higher stress by our children. The frequent vaccination shots when your child is very young are not so big a deal with high choline kids. Our kids hardly cry at all, or perhaps at most for 5 or 10 seconds of light crying after a vaccination shot. As you wait in the pediatrician's waiting room - you hear many kids screaming very loudly and persistently for a long time. Our kids seem to view these experiences with much less concern.
6. Faster Motor Skill Acquisition - most of our kids seem to start walking around age 9 months. (and by walking I mean able to walk across a 12 foot room without falling down). Here is a video of our first child walking at about 9 and 1/2 months: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hp6dheEgvo
Very good long term memory (kids recall stories from when they were much younger unprompted, and in great detail).
Naturally Low anxiety (our children never have really shown any
stranger anxiety), and low fear (our children -- both boys and girls -- love handling snakes, bugs and crabs and other new things) but fear can be learned very quickly if exposed to
a fearful situation. For example, one of the children's grandparents showed our daughter
the Disney movie "Dumbo" and our daughter became afraid of the dark so we had
to start leaving the hallway light on for about a 10 months. I've discovered that older Disney
movies have many terrifying scenes for young children (think Dumbo's mother being taken away from her children, Bambi's mother's death, etc.) so we avoid them now.
9. Choline-Induced reduction in sleep requirements (for children between the ages of 4 months to about 2
years) - in a dose-dependent manner. At age 4 months our first child began eating egg yolks (from boiled eggs) crushed and mixed with yogurt - and we found pretty consistent results. One egg yolk generally resulted in a skipped nap (when two naps was typical) - and two egg yolks resulted in all the naps being skipped that
day - and the child would be alert and full of energy until late in the evening (meanwhile all the other kids would be melting down and headed off to bed).
One parent I talked seems to think that high choline kids are more developmentally "finished" when they are born (because choline is important for cell division and cell membranes), but I am not sure of that, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if good nutrition generally resulted in more "finished" or completely developed looking kids, and if you're supplementing with choline you're probably already more conscious about prenatal nutrition than the average parent - so that may be what is driving this.
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