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Eating nuts may boost fetal brain development
A new study finds such kids excel in all cognitive areas.
- A Spanish study finds that nuts consumed early in pregnancy boost babies' cognitive strength.
- Eating walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts and/or hazelnuts early in pregnancy can make a big difference.
- For those without allergies, nuts are good food.
While the medical community — and parents — continue to deal with the 1 in 5 kids who suffer from a peanut allergy, there's some news about a very different, and beneficial, role such nuts can play in the diet of expecting mothers. A study from Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) and published in the European Journal of Epidemiology has found that eating nuts during the first trimester of pregnancy can boost a baby's intelligence.
Munching for braininess
Image source: Felipe Salgado / Unsplash
The Spanish study included over 2,200 mother/child pairs enrolled in proyecto INMA. Questionnaires tracked the nut intake of these mothers from Asturias, Guipuzcoa, Sabadell and Valencia during their first and third trimesters. Walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts and hazelnuts were the specific nuts ingested.
The Spanish Society of Community Nutrition recommends an average weekly nut consumption of between three and seven 30g servings a week. (Thirty grams is about 36 cocktail peanuts.) The women in the study had less than that amount, with a weekly average of just under three servings. Given the study's finding, says ISGlobal researcher and first author Florence Gignac, "This makes us think that if the mothers consumed the recommended weekly average the benefits could be much greater."
The children in the study were given questionnaires at ages of 1.5, 5 and 8 years of age to assess their cognitive abilities. The kids whose mothers had eaten nuts in their first trimester got high scores in all three tested areas: cognitive function, attention capacity, and working memory. No similar effect was found for children of final trimester nut consumption.
Image source: Mike Fox / Unsplash
The results suggest that nuts make their positive contribution to cognitive development primarily during the mothers' early weeks of pregnancy. Second study author Jordi Júlvez Calvo says, "While our study does not explain the causes of the difference between the first and third trimesters, the scientific literature speculates that the rhythm of fetal development varies throughout the pregnancy and that there are periods when development is particularly sensitive to maternal diet."
Timing aside, the finding is further evidence of a mother's nutrition as an important factor in fetal development, with long-term benefits. "We think," says Gignac, "that the beneficial effects observed might be due to the fact that the nuts provided high levels of folic acid and, in particular, essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6. These components tend to accumulate in neural tissue, particularly in the frontal areas of the brain, which influence memory and executive functions."
Júlvez warns that, of course, this is just one study, and expectant mothers should exercise caution when devising their diet during pregnancy based on its finding. "In any case," he says, "as this is the first study to explore this effect, we must treat the findings with caution and work on reproducing them in the future with more cohort studies as well as randomized controlled trials."
Scientists used CT scanning and 3D-printing technology to re-create the voice of Nesyamun, an ancient Egyptian priest.
- Scientists printed a 3D replica of the vocal tract of Nesyamun, an Egyptian priest whose mummified corpse has been on display in the UK for two centuries.
- With the help of an electronic device, the reproduced voice is able to "speak" a vowel noise.
- The team behind the "Voices of the Past" project suggest reproducing ancient voices could make museum experiences more dynamic.
Howard et al.<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"While this approach has wide implications for heritage management/museum display, its relevance conforms exactly to the ancient Egyptians' fundamental belief that 'to speak the name of the dead is to make them live again'," they wrote in a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-56316-y#Fig3" target="_blank">paper</a> published in Nature Scientific Reports. "Given Nesyamun's stated desire to have his voice heard in the afterlife in order to live forever, the fulfilment of his beliefs through the synthesis of his vocal function allows us to make direct contact with ancient Egypt by listening to a sound from a vocal tract that has not been heard for over 3000 years, preserved through mummification and now restored through this new technique."</p>
Connecting modern people with history<p>It's not the first time scientists have "re-created" an ancient human's voice. In 2016, for example, Italian researchers used software to <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/hear-recreated-voice-otzi-iceman-180960570/" target="_blank">reconstruct the voice of Ötzi,</a> an iceman who was discovered in 1991 and is thought to have died more than 5,000 years ago. But the "Voices of the Past" project is different, the researchers note, because Nesyamun's mummified corpse is especially well preserved.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"It was particularly suited, given its age and preservation [of its soft tissues], which is unusual," Howard told <em><a href="https://www.livescience.com/amp/ancient-egypt-mummy-voice-reconstructed.html" target="_blank">Live Science</a>.</em></p><p>As to whether Nesyamun's reconstructed voice will ever be able to speak complete sentences, Howard told <em><a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Weird/wireStory/ancient-voice-scientists-recreate-sound-egyptian-mummy-68482015" target="_blank">The Associated Press</a>, </em>that it's "something that is being worked on, so it will be possible one day."</p><p>John Schofield, an archaeologist at the University of York, said that reproducing voices from history can make museum experiences "more multidimensional."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"There is nothing more personal than someone's voice," he told <em>The Associated Press.</em> "So we think that hearing a voice from so long ago will be an unforgettable experience, making heritage places like Karnak, Nesyamun's temple, come alive."</p>
Inequality in wealth, gender, and race grew to unprecedented levels across the world, according to OxFam report.
- A new report by global poverty nonprofit OxFam finds inequality has increased in every country in the world.
- The alarming trend is made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, which strained most systems and governments.
- The gap in wealth, race and gender treatment will increase until governments step in with changes.
People wait in line to receive food at a food bank on April 28, 2020 in Brooklyn.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Credit: Oxfam International
A supernova exploded near Earth about 2.5 million years ago, possibly causing an extinction event.
- Researchers from the University of Munich find evidence of a supernova near Earth.
- A star exploded close to our planet about 2.5 million years ago.
- The scientists deduced this by finding unusual concentrations of isotopes, created by a supernova.
This Manganese crust started to form about 20 million years ago. Growing layer by layer, it resulted in minerals precipitated out of seawater. The presence of elevated concentrations of 60 Fe and 56 Mn in layers from 2.5 million years ago hints at a nearby supernova explosion around that time.
Credit: Dominik Koll/ TUM