Prenatal vitamins, nurturing help boost child development

Women who take vitamins during pregnancy appear to boost their child’s cognitive abilities at age 9-12 by up to a year of schooling, according to a study by a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health investigator and an international team of researchers.

Funded by the Government of Canada through Grand Challenges Canada’s “Saving Brains” program, the study appeared January 16, 2017 in Lancet Global Health and was conducted in Indonesia.

The researchers also found nurturing during early life, happy moms, and educated parents played a positive role in child development.

“No one on the team had anticipated the extent to which social and environmental factors would exceed biological factors as the determinants of cognitive function — 2- to 3-fold by some measurements. This work has global implications as countries are currently planning how to achieve the global Sustainable Development Goals with targets for improved childhood development,” co-principal investigator Anuraj Shankar, senior research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School and senior author, said in a statement.

Read the press release: Maternal micronutrients, nurturing environment boost child development

Learn more

Studies explore micronutrients’ effects in pregnant women and their children (Harvard Chan press release)

One-third of children in low- and middle-income countries fail to reach developmental milestones (Grand Challenges Canada and Harvard Chan press release)

Cost of poor child growth in developing world: $177B in lost wages for children born each year (Grand Challenges Canada and Harvard Chan press release)

Top risk for child stunting in developing world: poor growth before birth (Grand Challenges Canada and Harvard Chan press release)