The Mother and Child Foundation’s purpose, as stated on our website, is “to prevent and relieve the sickness and disability of pregnant women and their children, and to preserve and protect their health”.
Our previous research has defined poor maternal nutrition as a risk factor for low birthweight and its attendant mental health problems. This is independent of socio-economic status, ethnicity and smoking. This conclusion was confirmed when a randomised clinical trial of a micro-nutrition supplements during pregnancy reduced the proportion of babies born small for gestational age 2.3 fold.
We have now conducted a randomized trial at the Chelsea and Westminster Campus of Imperial College involving a supplement of brain-specific fats. Our research shows that the nutritional condition of the mother in the months before conception is the primary factor in deciding the success or failure in achieving a full term baby. We have discovered a biomarker which predicts preterm delivery with a better than 90% confidence level.
Taking the supplement during pregnancy also had a detectable effect on the brain development – in boys but not girls. Boys are more susceptible to deficiency of essential fats, even prenatally, and therefore more likely to suffer if deprived of them. Boys are generally larger than girls too, and therefore the brain has a higher requirement for sensors throughout the greater surface areas of their bodies.
Preterm delivery means the baby is born before the completion of prenatal brain development. It is well known that any distortion or incompleteness of brain development before birth has lifelong consequences. Moreover these are difficult if not impossible to correct later in life.
Our research evidence calls for a new initiative in prevention. It would be impossible to over-emphasize the supreme importance of maternal nutrition before conception. If we do not act, and mental ill-health continues to escalate, then our children and theirs face a bleak future.
New Year Resolutions
Our research evidence calls for a new initiative in prevention. It would be impossible to over-emphasize the supreme importance of maternal nutrition before conception. Here, then, are the New Year resolutions that we need to make at national and international level:
- A new paradigm in the food system, one that focuses on the needs of the brain.
- Public health initiatives to disseminate the importance of preparing for conception.
- A re-focusing of food production and nutrition policy to serve the interests of the brain.
If we do not do this and mental ill-health continues to escalate, then our children and theirs will face a bleak future. Escalation of the problem will make humanity unsustainable.
Let’s prevent premature births. Let’s prevent low birthweights. Let’s prevent the escalation of mental ill-health. Let’s make a future for our children with health, peace and prosperity.
And with those New Year resolutions, I would like to wish you all a healthy and prosperous Christmas holiday season, wherever you are in the world!