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Vitamin C Deficiency in Pregnant Mothers may affect Baby’s Brain Development

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credit: National Cancer Institute Renee Comet (Photographer)

(Best Syndication News) - Vitamin C deficiency in expecting mothers can cause brain damage for the developing baby, according to a study from researchers at the University of Copenhagen. Giving the baby vitamin-C supplements after birth did not reverse the brain damage. The results were published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Around 10 to 20 percent of all adults are estimated to have some level of vitamin-C deficiency. This study demonstrates the importance of women taking doctor-recommended vitamin supplements during pregnancy.

Professor Jens Lykkesfeldt explained that a mother with even a slight vitamin C deficiency could inhibit the development of the hippocampus in the fetus by around 10 to 15 percent.
To come to this conclusion, the researchers investigated pregnant guinea pigs and their offspring to see how a vitamin-C deficiency affects the developing infant. Like humans, guinea pigs cannot produce the vitamin.

Previously it was thought that the mother would protect the baby during pregnancy, Jens Lykkesfeldt explained; but the new research demonstrates that the selective transport is not enough when there is a vitamin C deficiency.

The scientists divided the newborn guinea pigs into two groups. One group was given vitamin-C supplements and the other group was not. The researchers said that when the guinea pigs were two months old they did not see any improvement in the supplemented group.

The scientists want to continue their investigation on the effects of vitamin C deficiency during pregnancy to find out how early the brain damage occurs in the offspring. So far, the brain damage in the developing babies was seen in the second and third trimesters.

If the results hold true in humans, it could be a problem with certain groups. People of low income may not eat enough food containing vitamin-C. Smoking can also lower vitamin C levels. If the deficiency contributes to brain damage during development, the child could face learning problems and have a poor memory.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

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