Food and Behaviour Research

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20 Nov 2012 - Nutraingredients - Maternal vitamin C backed for baby's brain development

By Nathan Gray

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

Even mild deficiencies of Vitamin C in pregnant mothers can permanently impair the brain development of their unborn children, according to this animal study.

The same researchers have already shown that Vitamin C deficiency led to memory problems in newborns (see Tveden-Nyborg et al 2009) And the brain areas affected by maternal Vitamin C deficiency in this study are well known to support memory functions. 

These findings have very serious implications if they can be generalised to humans. Of course experimental studies like this can never be done in humans for ethical reasons (but guinea pigs provide a good model, because like humans, they cannot make Vitamin C). However, these results are of sufficient concern that they deserve urgent investigation, and existing datasets from large birth cohort studies could be used to address the key question:

- Is low Vitamin C status in pregnant mothers really associated with lifelong memory deficits in the resulting offspring?

See Tveden-Nyborg et al 2012 - Maternal Vitamin C Deficiency during Pregnancy Persistently Impairs Hippocampal Neurogenesis in Offspring of Guinea Pigs

Maternal deficiency in vitamin during pregnancy could have serious consequences for the development of the foetal brain that cannot be reversed, according to new research data.

A lack of vitamin C during pregnancy can have serious consequences for the development of the foetal brain, leading to long term damage that cannot be reversed after birth, warn researchers writing in PLoS ONE.

"Even marginal Vitamin C deficiency in the mother stunts the foetal hippocampus, the important memory centre, by 10-15%, preventing the brain from optimal development", said research leader Professor Jens Lykkesfeldt - from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.