Forget It: "Baby Brain" is a Myth
Conducted by researchers from Australian National University and published in the February 2010 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, the cognitive function study of more than 1,000 women aged 20 to 24 tested four key areas of brain function: cognitive speed, working memory, and immediate and delayed recall. Women were followed up at four-year intervals and given the same cognitive tests.
When study participants were pregnant at the time of testing, researchers found no significant differences in cognitive abilities compared to non-pregnant women. Researchers also noted no significant differences in brain function once women became mothers.
But what about all those forgetful moments? A perceived bump in memory lapse may be because pregnant women tend to stay focused on the changes going on in their bodies and not everyday details such as the last place they put their keys, researchers note. But, “part of the problem is that pregnancy manuals tell women they are likely to experience memory and concentration problems, so women and their partners are primed to attribute any memory lapse to the ‘hard to miss’ physical sign of pregnancy,” says Dr. Helen Christensen, study lead author.
Still wondering why you keep misplacing your keys? Brain fog and minor memory lapses may be linked to such problems as lack of sleep, depression, or even iron-deficiency anemia (brain fog and low energy may be early warning signs of anemia).
The same steps you take to keep your pregnancy healthy—getting plenty of rest, following a healthy prenatal diet, faithfully taking your prenatal supplement, and exercising (if it’s safe for you)—may also help keep your mind sharp. And don’t forget your brain needs a workout, too! Pregnant or not, good for your gray matter activities include crossword and Sudoku puzzles, playing chess, and memorizing names, shopping lists, and phone numbers.
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