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Good Housekeeping
Charlene J. Owen, Staff Writer
November 22, 2012

Vitamin C Deficiency May Cause Memory Damage to Unborn Children

A new study shows that pregnant women who skip their Vitamin C supplements may harm their would-be children long after birth. By Charlene J. Owen

We all know that we shouldn't miss out on our daily Vitamin C intake, but for would-be mothers, this supplement can spell health or damage to a fetus's brain, which would stay even long after birth.

A study featured on ScienceDaily.com by the researchers of the University of Copenhagen investigated the effects of skipping Vitamin C on pregnant women and their offspring.

"Even marginal Vitamin C deficiency in the mother stunts the fetal hippocampus, the important memory center, by 10 to 15 percent, preventing the brain from optimal development,"  lead researcher Professor Jens Lykkesfeldt explains.

Scientists have initially thought that all the nutrients a baby needs can be produced by and transported from the mother, but this doesn't seem to be the case for vitamin C. That's why it's important that expectant mothers don't skip out on this important nutrient. Laboratory research further revealed a disturbing fact--vitamin C deficiency can't be remedied. Once the damage to the fetal brain has been done, any supplement taken by the baby after birth will have no effect.  

The study stresses the importance of having a healthy lifestyle, especially for pregnant women in lower social brackets. "People with low economic status who eat poorly--and perhaps who also smoke--often suffer from Vitamin C deficiency," Lykkesfeldt says. "Comparatively speaking, their children risk being born with a poorly developed memory potential. These children may encounter learning problems, and seen in a societal context, history repeats itself because these children find it more difficult to escape the environment into which they were born."  

But social status aside, it's important for expectant mothers to keep a balanced diet and maintain an ample amount of nutrients for two. Vitamin C deficiency is something that's so easy to avoid--it only needs a little discipline.

(Photo by Colin Dunn via Flickr Creative Commons)

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Charlene J. Owen
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