Earlier this week, news broke about the possibility that breastfeeding your baby could mean a higher IQ later in her or his life. The study highlights yet another benefit that can be tacked on to the laundry list of reasons why breastfeeding is best for babies, but it also brings up another question.
Is there anything else mothers can do before and during pregnancy to increase their child’s intelligence?
Time Magazine tackles this issue with a recent article, and I was glad it popped up in my Facebook newsfeed – because it’s certainly worth taking a closer look.
As the article points out, breastfeeding is just one thing a mother can do “to influence her baby’s intelligence.” But it’s far from the only thing.
The most obvious influencers are genes, but since so few people have control over this aspect, it’s practically pointless to harp on it. I mean really, how many of us screen our partners genes before getting pregnant?
So let’s look at the things we do have some control over.
First, there’s pollution. Yep, that’s right. Pollution affects your baby’s intelligence. Specifically, according to Time Magazine, “A mother’s exposure to pollutants such as lead, mercury and those found in car exhaust and pesticides during pregnancy has been connected to everything from ADHD to autism to lower IQ in children.” So be careful of older painted walls that might contain lead, limit the amount of tuna you consume, live in the country – just kidding, but do avoid car fumes when possible – and eat organic foods.
Next, we have the danger of BPA (bisphenol A), which has been commonly found in plastic water bottles, canned-food liners, and even store receipts (Source). Pregnant mice who have been exposed to BPA “gave birth to offspring with altered nerve development,” which can be tied to neurodevelopmental disorders that lessen intelligence levels. So start drinking from glass water bottles (I’m obsessed with my Lifefactory one!), skip canned foods, and opt to have your receipt emailed to you when possible.
And lastly, as far as what you can do during pregnancy to up your Little One’s IQ: have only one child. Well, not really. But oldest children will automatically have an advantage. Studies have shown that first-born children have “about a three point higher IQ on average compared to the next closest sibling. Why? Parents may spend more time engaging their first child, either by reading or playing games that stimulate their cognitive development.”
If you want to ensure that you keep making choices that can help your child’s IQ even after pregnancy, be sure to check out the full article on Time Magazine! And if you want to limit your chemical exposure during pregnancy, check out my post 13 Smart Tips for a Green Pregnancy!
Read more of Aela’s writing at Two Moms Make a Right
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