Thursday, May 7, 2009

Women who suffer from morning sickness are 'more likely to have babies with a high IQ'

Expectant mothers suffering from morning sickness should take heart.

For feeling nauseous in early pregnancy could be a sign that their baby is developing a high IQ, according to a study. Researchers found that women who reported feeling ill in the first few weeks after conceiving went on to have brighter, more vocal children. About four in five expectant mothers experience morning sickness. While the condition is not clearly understood, some scientists believe it is triggered by the flood of hormones released to protect the placenta and foetus.

Past studies have shown that nausea is a sign of a healthy pregnancy and is linked to a lower risk of heart problems in the baby and a lower level of miscarriage. Researchers at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto now believe it could also be linked to the developing baby's brain. They conducted the first study to look at the long-term effects of nausea on the brains of babies and contacted 121 women who called a hotline for newly pregnant mothers between 1998 and 2003.

Thirty of the women had no symptoms of morning sickness, while the rest reported symptoms such as tiredness, vomiting and nausea. The team carried out IQ and behaviour tests on the mothers' children when they were three and seven years old. The children whose mothers suffered from morning sickness were more likely to have high IQ scores than those whose mothers had no symptoms, the researchers report in the Journal of Pediatrics.
They also did better in tests for verbal fluency and simple maths, even when other factors - such as the mother's IQ, smoking and alcohol history and social background - were taken into account.

One flaw in the study was that in many cases the mothers were asked to recall how sick they had been feeling several years previously. It also needs to be repeated in a much larger group of women.

Dr Gideon Koren, who led the study, admitted that the conclusions sounded 'a little bit unusual' but said the hormone swings that led to morning sickness could be a good thing.
'It's the hormones secreted by the placenta that cause you to feel yucky, but on the other hand, they probably confer better conditions for the baby,' he said.

'Women suffer for it, but at least it's for a good cause.' However, the researchers believe it sheds light on one of the least understood parts of pregnancy.

Morning sickness is a misnomer because it can happen at any time of the day. Some women feel ill without prompting - others when they are hungry or after eating.
It is thought to be a reaction to two hormones - thyroxine and human chorionic gonadotropin - which are secreted during pregnancy to ensure a healthy placenta.
According to the Department of Health, around half of all pregnant women experience both nausea and vomiting, and a further 28 per cent will experience nausea without vomiting.

There is some evidence that ginger and acupuncture can ease symptoms.
In 2006, a study found that morning sickness was often triggered by too much alcohol, meat, sugar and oil and might have evolved as a way of preventing expectant mothers eating unhealthy food.

According to one old wives' tale, it is a sign that the baby is a girl - and that it is the body's response to the female sex hormone oestrogen.

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