First fish, now fruit? That’s what it looks like. The results of a recent study, published in EBioMedicine, are considered preliminary, but it looks like eating fruit may be one of the best things you can do to improve your baby’s cognitive development in utero.

Eating Fruit While Pregnant Seems to Improve Baby’s Cognitive Abilities

Researchers from the University of Alberta in Canada analyzed data from 688 children in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development, or Child, study. The researchers found that the more servings of fruit a mother ate while pregnant, the higher her child’s cognitive scores were when the baby was one-year-old. One of the lead authors of the study, Piush Mandhane, an associate professor of pediatrics at University of Alberta, was surprised at the consistency and strength of this correlation.

Eating Fruit While Pregnant May Boost Baby's Intelligence

Prior to this, the only other correlation between food consumption and cognitive development has been the one we wrote about last month in, Fish and Seafood Consumed During Pregnancy. The correlation between a mother’s fruit servings and enhanced cognitive development was so strong that Mandhane and some of this colleagues decided to replicate the study in fruit flies – and the results were similar. He and his team are now suggesting that further studies be conducted using other mammals as the study subjects.

Experts Warn Against a Fruit Free For All

So, should pregnant women become fish and fruitarians? Not so fast. One thing Mandhane pointed out was that at least half of the women in the study did not meet the government’s daily recommendations of 1.5 to 2 servings of fruit per day. Also, while fruit is full of nutrients and a good source of fiber, it is also laden with sugar, which can cause blood sugar spikes and put mothers at risk for gestational diabetes.

So, the research team says women should strive to meet the daily recommendations each day, rather than gorge themselves on fruit. As Emily Oken, a professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, points out – it might not be the fruit that is causing improved cognition. It could be that women who eat more fruit tend to have healthier diet and lifestyle habits as a whole, and that is what is causing the upticks in their child’s cognitive development. Lifestyle factors will need to be looked at in addition to fruit servings before any sweeping and conclusive statements can be made.

While it may take further studies to determine whether or not fruit is truly the cause of cognitive spikes, we do know 100% that a healthy diet and lifestyle are key to protecting the cognitive and physical development of your baby.

Wondering about your pregnancy diet? Check in with your doctor to discuss the best foods to eat, and important ones to avoid, to keep you and your baby as healthy as possible.