Failing to take multivitamins during pregnancy could set a child back by a year by the time they reach secondary school, a new study suggests.
The issue of taking supplements is controversial for pregnant women, with research last year suggesting that it was a waste of money to take anything except folic acid and vitamin d.
But a new study by an international team including Harvard University, the University of California and the University of Lancaster, found that multivitamins can add the equivalent of up to a full year of schooling to a child’s cognitive abilities between the ages of nine and 12.
The finding, which was carried out in women in Indonesia, is likely to be most relevant for women who do not get sufficient vitamins and minerals from their diets.
The study also found that early life nurturing, happier mothers and educated parents all led to cleverer children. A nurturing environment was found to be more even more important than biological factors, such as good nutrition, for general intellectual ability, academic achievement and fine motor dexterity.