The Link Between Morning Sickness and Smart Babies

For mothers who have ever wondered why they have been singularly selected to suffer the most dreadful morning sickness symptoms known to man during pregnancy, you will be relieved to hear that there is possibly a reason for this. According to Brain Rules for Baby, there is a study showing that the worse your morning sickness symptoms are, the smarter your baby is likely to become.

“One study, yet to be replicated, looked at children whose mothers suffered from major nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. When the children reached school age, 21 percent scored 130 or more points on a standard IQ test, a level considered gifted. If their mothers had no morning sickness, only 7 percent of kids did that well. The researchers have a theory—still to be proven—about why. Two hormones that stimulate a woman to vomit may also act like neural fertilizer for the developing brain. The more vomiting, the more fertilizer; hence, the greater effect on IQ.”

Interesting… I wonder how that translates across pregnancies. Morning sickness for me was worst during my first pregnancy and milder during my second pregnancy. Of course, part of the explanation might be because there are more distractions around during the second pregnancy – I’d say an older child demanding your attention constitutes a big distraction, would you?

Another point that I read while I was researching the risks of continued nursing during the course of a pregnancy was that the act of breastfeeding can help to reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. Since I nursed Gavin all the way through my second pregnancy, I figured that was probably why morning sickness was more manageable during the second pregnancy (even if all the other symptoms were worse).

Finally, it has also been said that knowing what to expect can also help the symptoms to appear more manageable. For example, it was found that most mothers felt that their second deliveries were not as painful as the first. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to be the case for my other pregnancy symptoms – back pain was definitely much worse.

But I’m digressing. Reading that paragraph from Brain Rules for Baby made me wonder… if your morning sickness symptoms are not as severe for one pregnancy, does that mean that the child from that pregnancy will be born with less smarts? I know I am always writing about the importance of nurture in developing a child’s brain, but remember that 50% of intelligence is inherited and that 50% cannot be altered.

More importantly, the speculation from researchers is that the severity of morning sickness that relates to brain development is thought to be due to two hormones that act as brain fertilisers. It is currently only a theory. Medina also stated that in the first half of pregnancy what the baby wants is for you to leave it alone so it can get on with its growth and development in peace. Could it be that it is having adequate rest that is more important for all this brain development? When morning sickness is severe, it incapacitates the mother and prevents her from getting too active, thereby forcing her to rest more.

Is this a good enough excuse to get more R&R during pregnancy then?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of (a website on parenting, education, child development) and (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

One thought on “The Link Between Morning Sickness and Smart Babies

  1. Whoever did that study was not very good at math. Only 1% of the population have IQs higher than 130. It is a fact proven by statistics. Therefore it would virtually impossible to have such high percentages of kids with an IQ higher than 130, morning sickness or not. It is a mathematical, statistical impossibility.


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