Pregnancy and nutrition and
How to produce better, brighter babies
Most people think of education as schooling. Some: even
preschooling. But the world's best-selling book in 1999, The Learning
Revolution, says real learning starts even earlier than that:
not only during pregnancy but before conception. And co-authors
Gordon Dryden and Dr. Jeannette Vos devote an entire chapter to the
period before birth: A sensible guide to producing better,
As part of the research for the book, Dryden traveled for
months around the world with a television crew to videotape some of
the world's best learning breakthroughs for six one-hour television
documentaries. The result included an interview with Scottish
Professor Michael Crawford not long after he had completed a
ten-year research program on the impact of nutrition on infant and
fetal brain growth.
The most important results of all revolve around brain cells
and their growth. Every day about two million of your body's cells
wear out. But the body replaces them automatically. Every 15 to 30
days your body completely replaces the outermost layers of your
skin. What you see in the mirror today is not the same skin you had
a month ago.
But some cells your body will never replace: the 100 billion
active neurons, or nerve cells, that make up your brain's cortex:
the vital uppermost part of your brain. Every one of them was
present the day you were born. In your mother's womb you were
growing them at an average of 250,000 cells every minute.
When pregnant women are severely undernourished, their
children can be born with fewer than half the brain cells of a
We each also have up to 900 billion glial cells to
nourish the neurons. These glial cells develop myelin, the
sheathing that wraps itself around the axons or pathways that
transmit messages around your brain and body. Again, both of these
cell groups start growing in the womb and continue during the first
few years of life.
From this and other research, The Learning Revolution concludes
that a mother's diet - before and during pregnancy, and while
breast-feeding - is vital for producing brighter, better babies.
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