Choline Intake During Pregnancy Lowers Stress Levels In Children

A recent study published in the FASEB Journal has found that maternal intake of choline, a nutrient in the B-vitmain group, may modify certain foetal genes to cause sustainable alternations in the stress response throughout the life course.

Choline is a nutrient found in abundance in egg yolks, organ meats and dairy products. Other dietary sources include dark green leafy vegetables, seafood and lecithin.

The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of maternal choline intake during the third trimester of pregnancy on the epigenetic state of cortisol-regulating genes, and their expression, in placenta and cord venous blood.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulates cortisol production in the body by the adrenal glands, and is sensitive to perinatal epigenetic programming. Epigenetics refers to the effect of environmental influences such as nutrition, stress and toxin exposure on gene expression.

Women took either 930mg or 480mg choline per day, and after 12 weeks of choline intake, women in the higher maternal choline intake group yielded higher placental promoter methylation of the cortisol-regulating genes, corticotropin releasing hormone and glucocorticoid receptor. They were also found to have lower placental CRH transcript abundance, lower cord blood leukocyte promoter methylation of CRH and 33% lower cord plasma cortisol.

This data suggests that maternal choline intake in humans modulates the epigenetic state of genes that regulate fetal HPA axis reactivity as well as the epigenomic status of fetal derived tissues.

Stress is a huge factor involved in modern day chronic disease, so evidence to show that the stress response can be modified via natural means is an important scientific breakthrough. 

This research also re-iterates the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy for both mother and child!