Higher cognitive function is linked to eating organic food as a child
Brain development and cognition is influenced by environmental factors and the most formative time occurs before birth and during childhood. A unique study recently published in the journal Environmental Pollution found that organic food intake during childhood was associated with higher cognitive function. The researchers developed a multiexposure model to explore the simultaneous effects of multiple, different environmental factors on cognitive development. They measured “87 exposures during pregnancy and 122 cross-sectionally during childhood, including air pollution, built environment, meteorology, natural spaces, traffic, noise, chemicals and life styles,” and considered three measures of cognitive function: fluid intelligence, attention, and working memory. The study examined 1298 mother-child pairs and the children were ages 6–11 years old. Overall the study found a strong connection between childhood food sources and cognitive function, where organic food intake was linked with higher fluid intelligence and higher working memory. Lower fluid intelligence was linked to child fast food intake, crowded housing and exposure to tobacco smoke. This first-of-its kind study shows the importance of considering multiple types of environmental exposures when drawing conclusions about brain development, and the researchers also acknowledge that these models need further development as they found unexpected linkages such as lower cognitive function connected to pregnancy exposure to more green spaces. Still this work is a powerful demonstration that what a child eats and the surrounding environment can have an important influence on brain development.
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