May 2012 Archives

May 12, 2012

Optimizing your Pregnancy for the Lifelong Health of the Child

filed under: General Baby Health
Following is a group of pregnancy science news summary PDF documents that I've created that I thought I'd share to help anyone planning a pregnancy.  All the documents are Password Protected with the password "choline".

Prenatal Choline is just one (significant) part of what I believe you need to do to have a healthy pregnancy; there are many other things you need to consider and plan for.  In addition to the research I've done into choline I did a lot of research on the other areas of science that help you optimize the health of your child.  

This is an area that is extremely important because I believe that the research is showing that the potential positive impact you can have during the nine months of pregnancy (as well as the year prior) is actually significantly greater than the impact you can have the rest of your child's lifespan - so the time and effort you spend planning your pregnancy is going to pay off big, and it makes the rest of your child's life likely to be much easier than if you didn't.  

If you find the choline research interesting - then you'll probably find this other information of interest.  What I've done here is created a group of documents in which I've pulled together all this pregnancy science news that I found interesting.  This was done over a 3 or 4 year period - and you'll see that some of the information actually contradicts each other.  I have not gone through and edited it to remove the contradictory news/research items.  This was created for my own use - I'm just sharing it in the the hope that some other people can benefit from it - and make the world a healthier place for future generations.  You might share it with anyone you think might benefit.  I tend to think that this type of research (the latest academic research news) is of particular value because most information takes many years to get into popular books that people read prior to, or during pregnancy - so you're effectively having a children based on very old information if thats all you rely upon.  

Of course - this is mostly just covering new research - and if anyone has been involved with science for a while, you know that one research paper doesn't really tell you that much - so take this information with a grain of salt, especially when its a story based on just one research paper.  That said, its helpful to understand where the science around this particular area (for example, vitamin D) has been trending for the past few years - to get a better perspective on what risks you might be taking if you increase the levels of vitamin D during pregnancy above what is currently included in a single standard prenatal vitamin. 

Here is a sample list of the types of stories I've accumulated in this list of readings that I've pulled together as part of my pre-pregnancy planning:

Women who start prenatal vitamins early are less likely to have children with autism - Women who do not take them early are nearly twice as likely to have children with autism.

Folic acid intake one year prior to pregnancy may also reduce premature births - The risk of having a premature baby may be halved if women take folic acid supplements for at least one year before conception, suggests new data.

New Research Shows Why Every Week of Pregnancy Counts

Research on early births could hold clues to disorders like autism and cerebral palsy.

Stress  even before pregnancy impacts children to be...

Prenatal exposure triggers a taste for alcohol in children ...

Moms Who Eat High-Fat Diet Before, During Pregnancy 'Program' Babies to Be Fat, at Risk

If expectant mums put on the pounds, so do the kids

Shaky Amount of Iodine in U.S. Salt

Can Heavier Babies Expect Better Mental Health?

Broccoli Sprouts Eaten During Pregnancy May Provide Children with Life-Long Protection 

Against Heart Disease.

Are Fish-Eaters Smarter than Fish Oil Pill-Poppers?

Eating Eggs During Pregnancy Protects Mom's Offspring from Cancer

Should Prenatal Care Be Extended to Dads?

Here are the documents with the full stories. Remember, the password is "choline"

Pregnancy 2010 and 2011 News.pdf

A.pregnancy.and.brain development.2008.pdf

Pregnancy General News 2008.part.1.pdf

Pregnancy General News 2008.Part_2.pdf


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May 2, 2012

Good Prenatal Choline Research Papers

filed under: Prenatal Choline Research Study
I think its a good idea for any parent who is interested in High Levels of Choline supplementation to review the top research papers on the topic.   

Here is my favorites' list (The full research papers are at the links provided below):

An overview of evidence for a causal relationship between dietary availability of choline during development and cognitive function in offspring - By Joyce C. McCann, Mark Hudes, Bruce N. Ames

The Fetal Origins of Memory: The Role of Dietary Choline in Optimal Brain Development - by Steven H Zeisel, MD, PHD

Choline: Critical Role During Fetal Development and Dietary Requirements in Adults - Steven H Zeisel, MD, PHD

Importance of methyl donors during reproduction -by Steven H Zeisel, MD, PHD

Metabolic imprinting of choline by its availability during gestation: implications for memory and attentional processing across the lifespan (By Warren H. Meck, Christina L. Williams)


May 2, 2012

New Study: Choline Programs Healthier, Low Stress Babies

filed under: Choline Benefits Prenatal Choline Research Study
The following new research news is an interesting example of research that has been hinted at for many years now.  I spoke with a Choline researcher down at the University of Southern California back in 2008 and he said that in their (unpublished work) when they stress female mice during pregnancy over generations that they start finding the same brain changes in the offspring that are indicative of autism and schizophrenia in humans.  When they then fed high rates of choline to the same batches of female mice - the offspring showed none of these changes.  

I think we'll see a lot more research in this area moving forward - if we see that choline can in fact greatly reduce the rates of mental illness in children - as it currently seems.  During the past 5 years much more has become known about the role that prenatal stress (eg. cortisol and glucocorticoids) plays in the risk of mental illness (that is, a very important roll in mental illness) - and this new research below really suggests that most cases of mental illness may be prevented if women had higher choline intakes during pregnancy.  This is very, very exciting work.  

Public release date: 2-May-2012

Source: Cornell University 

Pioneering study shows prenatal choline may 'program' healthier babies

ITHACA, N.Y. - Pregnant women may have added incentive to bulk up on broccoli and eggs now that a Cornell University study has found increased maternal intake of the nutrient choline could decrease their children's chances of developing hypertension and diabetes later in life.

In a study led by Marie Caudill, associate professor of nutritional sciences, and graduate student Xinyin Jiang, a group of third-trimester pregnant women consumed 930 milligrams of choline, more than double the recommended 450 milligram daily intake. The result for their babies was 33 percent lower concentrations of cortisol - a hormone produced in response to stress that also increases blood sugar - compared to those from a control group of women who consumed about 480 milligrams of choline.

Caudill believes this happened because the choline changed the expression patterns of genes involved in cortisol production. The work, published online this week in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, is the first human study to suggest a role for choline in the "programming" of key biological processes in the baby.

"The study findings raise the exciting possibility that a higher maternal choline intake may counter some of the adverse effects of prenatal stress on behavioral, neuroendocrine and metabolic development in the offspring," Caudill said.

This could be especially useful for women experiencing anxiety and depression during their pregnancy, as well as conditions such as pre-eclampsia.

"A dampening of the baby's response to stress as a result of mom consuming extra choline during pregnancy would be expected to reduce the risk of stress-related diseases such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes throughout the life of the child," she added.

She said additional studies are needed to confirm the study findings and further explore long-term effects. Dietary sources of choline include egg yolks, beef, pork, chicken, milk, legumes and some vegetables. Most prenatal vitamin supplements do not include choline.

"We hope that our data will inform the development of choline intake recommendations for pregnant women that ensure optimal fetal development and reduce the risk of stress-related diseases," Caudill said. 

Here is the full research paper (click to on the link below to download and view):

Maternal choline intake alters the epigenetic stateof fetal cortisol-regulating genes in humans



May 2, 2012

Prenatal Choline Supplementation Video

filed under: Choline Benefits Prenatal Choline Research Study
I just found out that Cornell University has a video on prenatal choline  supplementation (supplementation during pregnancy) :

More choline for moms-to-be may improve kids' cognition


May 2, 2012

The Phenotype of the High Prenatal Choline Child

filed under: Choline Benefits General Baby Health Personal Experience
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:

7.       Very good long term memory (kids recall stories from when they were much younger unprompted, and in great detail).

8.       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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