Diet, parental involvement and preschool can raise child's IQ

Published: Monday, Jan. 28 2013 5:15 p.m. MST

Fish oil added to diet, interactive reading with parents during younger developmental years and enrollment in high-quality preschool can all be effective ways to raise a child's IQ, according to a new report from the New York University School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

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Fish oil added to diet, interactive reading with parents during younger developmental years and enrollment in high-quality preschool can all be effective ways to raise a child's IQ, according to a new report from the New York University School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

The research — published in the journal "Perspectives on Psychological Science" — was derived from the findings of the best available existing studies "involving samples of children from birth and kindergarten," to look at ways in which intelligence can be enhanced throughout the lifetime, according to a Science Daily release on the study.

By supplementing the diet of a pregnant woman and her newborn with foods rich in Omega-3, a child's IQ can be boosted by more than 3.5 points, according to the research.

"These essential fatty acids may help raise intelligence by providing the building blocks for nerve cell development that the body cannot produce on its own," said the release.

Additionally, the intervention of parents focused on interactive reading — engaging children while reading with them — found boosts to children IQ's by more than six points. However, these interventions were found to have no effect on children over the age of four, "suggesting that the interventions may accelerate language development, which, in turn, boosts IQ," according to the research.

Lastly, the data found that when a child was sent to preschool it could raise IQ by over four points; preschools with language development included were found to boost IQ by more than seven points.

"Our current findings strengthen earlier conclusions that complex environments build intelligence, but do cast doubt on others, including evidence that earlier interventions are always most effective," said John Protzko, the lead researcher.

"Overall, identifying the link between essential fatty acids and intelligence gives rise to tantalising new questions for future research and we look forward to exploring this finding," Protzko said.

The importance of parents staying involved with their children's lives — from the first years of their lives, through high school and beyond — has been illustrated by the NYU Child Study Center, through expert advice.

"Parent participation is the ingredient that makes the difference. Parents' active involvement with their child's education at home and in school brings great rewards and can have a significant impact on their children's lives," said a Study Center article on this involvement.

Mandy Morgan is an intern for the Deseret News, reporting on issues surrounding both family and values in the media. She is a true-blue Aggie, studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University, and hails from Highland, Utah.

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