When I was pregnant with my twins, my sweet elderly obstetrician asked me every time I saw him, “Drink much milk?” I was pleased to answer in the affirmative each time. Little did I know that my love of dairy was not only building strong bones and teeth, but also potentially boosting my babies’ IQs.
A study of more than 1,000 pregnant women found those who consumed lower amounts of iodine, which is absorbed from food and found in milk, dairy products and fish, were more likely to have children with lower IQs and reading abilities.
Previous research has shown that conventional milk is better for pregnant women than organic milk. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition discovered that organic milk contains 42 per cent less iodine than the regular variety.
The article adds that eating fish is another good source of iodine, but that kelp supplements have too much.
The test spots two genes in DNA that may signal the onset of the condition, and could provide early warnings of the debilitating sadness, irritability, depression and loss of appetite that affect almost one in five new mothers within weeks of giving birth.
Women could then be given treatments to reduce the severity of the condition or even prevent it developing at all, the researchers hope.
Women who have the two genes are thought to be particularly susceptible to the effects of pregnancy hormones on the brain, which could leave them more vulnerable to stress and less able to adapt to the demands of motherhood.
When interviews are conducted along with the blood tests, the prediction success rate is even higher. The downside is that it may take two years before the test is widely available.