Pregnant women can include pomegranate juice in their daily diet to protect their infant’s brain, stated a study. The research stated the fruit contains potential neuroprotective agents that can play a vital role in an infant’s brain development.
The study, published in the medical journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday, focused on the association between maternal intake of pomegranate juice and brain structure in infants with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).
IUGR is a medical condition in which a fetus weighs below the 10th percentile for his gestational age as determined through an ultrasound, according to the American Pregnancy Association. The condition is also known as fetal growth restriction or Small-for-Gestational-Age (SGA).
The study stated that IUGR is mostly caused due to an issue with the placenta, which supplies nutrients and oxygen to the growing fetus. One in every 10 infants is considered to have this condition and the birth process itself can reduce the blood flow to the infant’s brain.
If the condition becomes very severe, it can lead to hypoxic-ischemic injury, which is a condition contributing to nearly one-quarter of infant deaths across the globe, the research that was led by a group of researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital noted.
Through the study, the research team found out that pomegranate juice has a protective effect on infant’s brain. They said this drink may be able to prevent the devastating effects of brain injury in newborn even before their birth.
“Our study provides preliminary evidence suggesting potential protective effects for newborns exposed to pomegranate juice while in utero,” lead researcher Terrie Inder, who is the chair of the Department of Pediatric Newborn Medicine at the Brigham, said in a statement.
“These findings warrant continued investigation into the potential neuroprotective effects of polyphenols in at-risk newborns, such as those with hypoxic-ischemic injury,” the researcher added.
For the double-blinded, controlled and randomized study, the researchers observed 78 expecting women from the Barnes-Jewish Hospital obstetric clinic in St. Louis, who were diagnosed with IUGR at the gestation period of 24-43 weeks.
The participants of the study were asked to drink eight ounces of pomegranate juice every day until delivery. The research team then measured several aspects of an infant’s brain development and injury, including microstructural organization, macrostructure and functional connectivity. During the analysis, the scientists were able to find regional differences in functional connectivity and microstructure, though they were unable to observe any difference in brain macrostructure.
“These measures tell us about how the brain is developing functionally. We saw no difference in brain growth and baby growth, but we did see improvement in cabling network and brain development measured by synchronous blood flow and visual development of the brain,” Inder said.
However, the researchers said there is a need for a rigorously designed, larger clinical trial for a continued investigation into the potentiality of neuroprotective effects of polyphenols, which is abundant in pomegranate juice.
“We plan to continue investigating these exciting findings. While the preliminary evidence shows promise, additional study and replication is needed,” the lead researcher said.
Pregnant women can include pomegranate juice in diet to protect baby’s brain