Mothers are the only source of nutrition for the child's physical and mental development. Poor nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding can highly affect the child's growth in the womb and throughout their early childhood. Recent research suggests that adding more choline to the pregnancy diet can improve the child's sustainable attention.
What Is Attention Span And What Are The Factors Influencing It?
The time spent on any activity without getting distracted or losing interest is called the attention span.
Distraction refers to shifting attention from the ongoing activity to other tasks or sensations.
The attention given to an activity or task can be differentiated into two types:
- Transient attention - the temporary distraction faced in a task due to a short-term response to other activities or sensation
- Selective sustained attention - the ability to focus on an activity in the presence of other distractions
Attention Span In Children
Attention spans differ for each child but follow a specific pattern.
The average attention span of a healthy child is believed to be two minutes per year of age.
According to the child's age, the attention span increases two-three times the age.
Factors Affecting A Child's Attention Span
- Child's Age
- The freshness of the activity
- Personal interest in the task
- Learning disabilities
- Cognitive functions
- Mental health
How Does Maternal Nutrition Influence A Child's Cognition?
Maternal nutrition refers to the mother's nutritional requirements during antepartum and postpartum periods.
The disparity in maternal nutrition can affect infants' average growth and development as the child depends on the maternal plasma for its nutrients.
Pregnancy and infancy are the crucial periods for the formation of a child's brain and the development of a child's cognitive, motor, social, and emotional skills.
Nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy can cripple the child's development, leading to neurological defects and poor cognitive development.
Poor maternal nutrition is associated with many adverse short and long-term outcomes - increased infant death rates and childhood morbidity.
Preventing nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy can have widespread benefits for individuals and societies.
Choline Rich Diet And Child's Attention Span - The Study
The study, led by researchers from Cornell University, was published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
It reported that consuming twice the recommended amount of choline during pregnancy improves children's attention span.
Choline is a nutrient produced by our liver in meager amounts.
It is also naturally present in egg yolks, red meat, beef liver, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Choline intake during pregnancy is vital as it impacts the child's brain and spinal cord development.
- The mothers in the study consumed a diet with a specific amount of choline during their third trimester of pregnancy.
- Half of them consumed 480 mg of choline each day, slightly more than the recommended level (450 mg)
- The other half consumed 931 mg of choline per day, more than twice the recommended level.
After a follow up of seven years, the study reported the following:
- Children of mothers who consumed 480 mg of choline displayed less accuracy throughout a sustained attention task
- Children of mothers who consumed 930 mg displayed a high level of accuracy during the same task
The results suggest that maternal choline supplementation can improve children's cognitive functions.
How To Add More Choline To Diet?
- Eggs are one of the best sources of choline.
Consuming two eggs per day can provide you with 294 mg of choline, 50% of the recommended choline level.
- Including more organ meat in your diet can help you increase your choline levels.
Organ meats like liver and kidney provide 65% of recommended daily intake level of choline.
- Shiitake mushrooms are also an excellent source of plant-based choline.
- Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli also contain choline.
Consuming cruciferous vegetables with eggs and organ meat can help you meet the daily needs for choline.
- Choline is an essential nutrient produced by our liver. It is essential for the normal functioning of the nervous system and the development of the brain.
- A recent study has suggested that consuming twice the recommended amount of choline during pregnancy leads to children displaying better attention span.
- Few of the best food sources of choline include eggs, organ meat, shiitake mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables.