Motherhood is good for the brain

This seems like an old story but evidently some people still need convincing: pregnancy does not turn a woman’s mind to “mush”, a new study finds. Researchers at the Australian National University interviewed 2500 people between the ages of 20 and 24 in 1999 and then repeated the process in 2003 and 2007. Professor Helen Christensen said the results showed that neither pregnancy nor motherhood had a detrimental effect on mental powers such as memory and logic.

In fact, said Dr Christensen, research in Singapore showed that mother rats have improved multi-skilling capacity, navigate mazes more efficiently and have less anxiety and fear than non-mothers. She believed research on humans would eventually have the same results. “One might assume that women were more likely to have better, not worse, mental ability during pregnancy compared to before, and that the results could be permanent.” ~ Telegraph (UK), Feb 8

A 2002 study by Angela Oatridge of Hammersmith Hospital, London, reported that brain scans of pregnant women showed a four per cent decline in size, and another Australian study found that pregnant women consistently performed worse on tests for memory and verbal skills.

But an American study last year suggested that although women “experience a decline in mental powers” during pregnancy, that is because the brain is being remodelled for motherhood to cope with the greater challenges of life with a child. “The changes that kick in then could last for the rest of their lives, bolstering cognitive abilities and protecting them against degenerative diseases,” said Professor Craig Kinsley of the University of Richmond, Virginia. ~ Telegraph, 12 Oct 2008



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