Pregnant women who eat up to nine eggs a day have babies with higher IQs, new research suggests.
Eggs contain high amounts of choline, which boosts infants’ memories and abilities to process information.
However, nine is an unusually high number to eat in a day and they are linked to high cholesterol which can be deadly.
Recommendations advise 480mg of the nutrient a day in expectant mothers, however, the study suggests nearly double that amount is required for optimal results.
Yet, the researchers warn many pregnant women fail to even consume the recommended choline intake, which may be due to eggs’ reputation for causing raised cholesterol levels, as well as warnings against expectant mothers eating them if undercooked.
On average, one egg yolk contains around 115mg of choline. Other sources include red meat, fish, poultry, legumes and nuts.
Pregnant women who eat up to nine eggs a day have babies with higher IQs, research suggests
ONE EGG A DAY FOR SIX MONTHS BOOSTS A BABY’S BRAIN DEVELOPMENT AND FUNCTION
Feeding babies eggs boosts their brain development and function, research suggested last month.
Just one egg a day for six months significantly increases youngsters’ levels of the nutrients choline and DHA, both of which are involved in brain health, a study found.
Previous research reveals feeding babies eggs improves their growth and prevents stunting.
Lead author Lora Iannotti from the Brown School at Washington University, said: ‘Like milk or seeds, eggs are designed to support the early growth and development of an organism and are, therefore, dense in nutrient content.
‘Eggs provide essential fatty acids, proteins, choline, vitamins A and B12, selenium, and other critical nutrients at levels above or comparable to those found in other animal food products, but they are relatively more affordable.’
The NHS says that mothers-to-be do not need to go on a special diet, but stress it’s important to eat a variety of different foods every day to get the right balance of nutrients that she and her baby need.
It recommends eggs for pregnant women but warns you should avoid eating some raw or partially cooked eggs, as there is a risk of salmonella.
How the research was carried out
The researchers from Cornell University analyzed 26 pregnant women entering their third trimesters.
Half of the study’s participants ate 480mg of choline every day until their delivery, while the remainder consumed 930mg.
The participants’ babies were assessed for their information processing speed and memories at four, seven, 10 and 13 months old.
‘This single nutrient has lifelong benefits’
Results reveal babies have significantly faster reaction times if their mothers ate 930mg of choline a day during the final stage of their pregnancy.
Infants are also faster at processing information if their mothers consumed around twice the recommended choline intake every day of their third trimester.
A person’s IQ is partially determined by their memory.
Study author Marie Caudill said: ‘In animal models using rodents, there’s widespread agreement that supplementing the maternal diet with additional amounts of this single nutrient has lifelong benefits on offspring cognitive function.
‘Our study provides some evidence that a similar result is found in humans.’
The findings were published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
NHS SAFETY ADVICE FOR EATING EGGS DURING PREGNANCY
The NHS recommends expectant mothers eat some protein foods every day.
Eggs are included in this list but it warns you should avoid eating some raw or partially cooked eggs, as there is a risk of salmonella.
Eggs produced under the British Lion Code of Practice are safe for pregnant women to eat raw or partially cooked, as they come from flocks that have been vaccinated against salmonella.
These eggs have a red lion logo stamped on their shell. Pregnant women can eat these raw or partially cooked (for example, soft boiled eggs, mousse, mayonnaise and soufflé).
Eggs that have not been produced under the Lion Code are considered less safe, and pregnant women are advised to avoid eating them raw or partially cooked.
These eggs should be cooked until the white and the yolk are hard.
If you don’t know whether the eggs used are Lion Code or not (for example in a restaurant or cafe), ask the staff or, to be on the safe side, you can follow the advice for non-Lion Code eggs.
Non-hen eggs such as duck, goose and quail eggs should always be cooked thoroughly.
Source: NHS Choices