Could a diet rich in Vitamin B12 during Pregnancy really reduce the chances of your Baby developing Colic?
New research suggests that women can reduce their likelihood of having an extensively crying or colicy baby by making sure that they get adequate supplies of vitamin B12 during pregnancy.
The research, published in the Early Human Development journal looked at the vitamin B12 levels in the blood of 4000 women during the 12th week of pregnancy. After the babies were born, researchers monitored how long they cried for and how long it took them to calm down.
What they found was that the babies of women who had the lowest levels of B12 in their blood were Eight Times more prone to crying for periods of more than 3 hours per day (which is a medical definition of colic).
Almost 5% of the women with low B12 levels reported that their babies cried for prolonged periods, compared with only 1% of those with high B12 levels.
This is the first study to show a link between colic and a mother’s nutrition levels during pregnancy. However, further research needs to be undertaken to substantiate these claims.
Why does Vitamin B12 help prevent Colic in Babies?
Vitamin B12 has many different functions in the body. One of its most important functions is in the development of the brain and nervous system in unborn babies. Researchers believe that the lack of B12 in the mother’s diet could leave babies more susceptible to stress and more reactive to different stimuli than those with high levels of the vitamin.
It could also interrupt the natural sleep cycle of babies because low levels of vitamin B12 inhibits the release of the sleep hormone melatonin.
What Foods are Rich in Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 can only be manufactured by bacteria, and is only found naturally in animal products. This is why vegetarians and vegans can be at particular risk of B12 deficiency, leading to anaemia, tiredness and weight loss. However, synthetic forms are widely available and are added to many different products.
Some of the foods that are particularly rich in vitamin B12 are not recommended for pregnant women. These include liver, soft cheese and shellfish.
The foods with the highest levels of vitamin B12 include:
- Red meat
- Dairy products e.g. milk, yoghurt, cheese
- Yeast extract spreads e.g. Marmite
This research also considered other factors, such as age, social background, smoking and education. However, even when these were taken into account, the women with the lowest levels of vitamin B12 were found to have the most colicy babies.