Choline Helps Provide Optimal Nutrition for a Happy, Healthy Baby
Scientific evidence continues to build supporting the importance of choline for prenatal nutrition.
Research suggests that higher choline intake early in pregnancy is associated with a reduction in risk of neural tube defects.1
Choline plays a significant role in fetal development, and particularly brain development. Choline is transferred across the placenta from the mother to the fetus. The typical concentration of choline in amniotic fluid may be 15 times that of maternal blood, and the placenta itself may have up to 50 times more choline than in maternal plasma, with large quantities stored in reserve as acetylcholine.2
Nerves use choline to make acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is one of the body’s most important neurotransmitter chemicals, essential for sending signals from one cell to another. Choline is needed before birth to aid in the production of the phospholipids needed to build cholinergic neurons – the nerve cells that primarily use acetylcholine to send messages.
It has been observed that prenatal choline is essential to the neurophysiological development of the hippocampus, the so-called “memory center” of the brain3,4. Choline is needed after birth, as well, as part of the synaptic connections that continue to be formed in the hippocampus and basal forebrain after birth3,4.
In a recent clinical study at Cornell University, increased choline intake during pregnancy was correlated with improved processing speed in infants.5