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Taking micronutrient supplements during pregnancy may lead to smarter kids

Meredith Bland is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on Time.com, Brain, Mother, The Rumpus, Scary Mommy and Narratively, among others.

Study shows that a certain kind of supplement can someday lead to a smarter tween

Do you want your tween to get even smarter? You're joking, right?, those of us who are currently parents of tweens are thinking. They're smart enough, thank you very much.

Science, however, believes that we should do what we can to help our kids develop to their maximum potential, so they keep working on it, sometimes with surprising results. And according to a new study, the supplements pregnant women take might play a role in their children's later intelligence.

More: Minerals are the new vitamins, but don't get supplement happy just yet

This month's Lancet Global Health includes a new study, which found that pregnant women who took a micronutrient supplement during pregnancy "can add the equivalent of one full year of schooling to a child's cognitive abilities at age 9-12." Specific!

Researchers looked at over 3,000 Indonesian children, half of whom had mothers who took multiple micronutrient supplements and half who took an iron-folic acid supplement. (The MMN supplements are most like the kind of prenatal vitamins women take in the United States.)

The research found that the children of women who took MMN supplements while pregnant had an advantage in procedural memory (the kind of memory used for math and reading) equivalent to that gained in a half-year of schooling. Even more interesting, the children of anemic mothers who took MMN supplements gained the equivalent of a full year of schooling in "general intellectual ability."

More: Why I went on antidepressants during my pregnancy

Of course, the research didn't suggest that MMN supplements alone caused the increases. In fact, they found that a "nurturing environment" was even more important to later cognitive ability. They suggest that programs aimed at addressing "home environment, maternal depression, paternal education, and socio-economic status...are essential to achieve thriving populations."

So, in addition to making sure our children have safe and happy homes, let's keep taking those prenatal vitamins, folks. Between those two factors, we should all get to experience the joy of being corrected about how we breathe by our 9-year-olds.

More: Simple "outside-in" depression treatment could help boatloads of people

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