Research Reveals Positive Impact of Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy on Infant Neurological Development

by Ella

A recent study conducted by a multidisciplinary team of Spanish medical researchers sheds light on the potential benefits of the Mediterranean diet for neurological development in infants. The second stage of the Improving Mothers for a Better Prenatal Care Trial Barcelona (IMPACT BCN) explored structured interventions, focusing on the Mediterranean diet and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), to reduce adverse pregnancy outcomes.


The trial, conducted in Barcelona, enrolled 1,221 pregnant individuals at high risk of delivering small for gestational age newborns between February 2017 and October 2019. The follow-up continued until March 1, 2020. The recent analysis focused on a prespecified secondary endpoint: the impact of maternal interventions on neurodevelopmental outcomes in offspring at the age of two years.


Using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development (Bayley-III), the evaluation assessed cognitive, language, motor, social-emotional, and adaptive behavior domains between July and November 2022.


Participants were randomized into three groups: a nutritional intervention, a stress reduction intervention, and a control group receiving standard care. This pioneering study aimed to investigate whether maternal interventions during pregnancy, particularly the Mediterranean diet, could enhance neurodevelopmental outcomes in children.


Results revealed that children born to mothers who underwent structured lifestyle interventions based on the Mediterranean diet or stress reduction exhibited better scores in cognitive and social-emotional domains at the age of two. This marks the first randomized clinical trial assessing the impact of such interventions on child neurodevelopment.

The dietary intervention, rooted in the traditional Mediterranean diet adapted for pregnancy, involved monthly individual and group sessions supplemented with extra virgin olive oil and walnuts. Stress reduction participants followed a mindfulness-based stress reduction program adapted for pregnancy, including weekly group classes and daily home practice.

At the corrected age of 24 months, the assessment showed significantly higher scores in the cognitive and social-emotional domains for children in the Mediterranean diet group compared to the usual care group. Children in the stress reduction group exhibited higher scores in the social-emotional domain.

Exploratory analyses revealed positive associations between the Mediterranean diet score and cognitive and language Bayley-III domains. Higher intake of docosahexaenoic acid, an omega‑3 fatty acid found in fish oils, was linked to better language scores. Conversely, higher trans fatty acid intake was inversely associated with social-emotional and language scores.

While the study acknowledges certain limitations, such as participant selection from those deemed at high risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, the findings suggest that structured maternal lifestyle interventions based on the Mediterranean diet during pregnancy contribute to improved cognitive and social-emotional scores in children at age two.

The researchers believe these results support the idea that a healthy dietary pattern like the Mediterranean diet may positively influence fetal neurodevelopment. Further randomized clinical trials and assessments in diverse patient populations will enhance our understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved.


You May Also Like

Womenhealthdomain is a professional women's health portal website, the main columns include women's mental health, reproductive health, healthy diet, beauty, health status, knowledge and news.

【Contact us: [email protected]

[email protected]

Call: 18066312111

© 2023 Copyright