Black women’s low choline level is one of the reasons for premature delivery. Choline is a natural nutrient needed for brain development. Choline is highest in eggs and meat, where it is in the form of phosphatidylcholine. As for other prenatal vitamins, most women also need a choline or phosphatidylcholine supplement to get the full benefit for their baby.
The benefits for the baby of a choline supplement along with regular prenatal vitamins for Black women and their babies is presented in a peer-reviewed paper in Schizophrenia Bulletin, a leading publication in mental health.
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS SCHIZOPHRENIA B U L L E T I N Black American Maternal Prenatal Choline, Offspring Gestational Age at Birth, and Developmental Predisposition to Mental Illness Sharon K. Hunter, M. Camille Hoffman, Lizbeth McCarthy, Etheldreda Nakimuli-Mpungu et al. University of Colorado School of Medicine; Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Uganda; University of North Carolina Schizophrenia Bulletin 2020 DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbaa171
Key Points --Many Black women in American have more stress than other women as measured by increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their hair. Racism is one likely cause. --Their high cortisol lowers their choline levels in early pregnancy, when their baby’s brain is forming. Their babies are often deliveredprematurely and fail to form key brain circuits that support their child’s future ability to make friends and to pay attention in school. --Supplementing choline with 6300mg phosphatidylcholine decreased prematurity and the problems in brain development. The children at 4-years-old pay better attention and relate well to other people.
Summary Black Americans have increased risk for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses with prenatal origins. Prenatal choline promotes infant brain development and behavioral outcomes, but choline has not been specifically assessed in Black Americans. Pregnant women (N = 183, N = 25 Black Americans) enrolled in a study of prenatal stressors and interactions with prenatal choline. Black American women had lower 16-week gestation plasma choline than Whites. Lower choline was not related to obesity, income, or metabolic genotypes. Pregnant women in rural Uganda have higher choline levels than Black American women. Black Americans’ lower choline was associated with higher hair cortisol, indicative of higher stress. Lower maternal choline was associated with offsprings’ lower gestational age at birth and with decreased auditory P50 inhibition, a marker of inhibitory neuron development. Behavioral development was assessed on the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-R-SF (IBQ-R) at 3 months. Lower Black American maternal gestational choline was associated with lower infant IBQ-R Orienting/Regulation, indicating decreased attention and relation to caregivers. Additional evidence for developmental effects of choline in Black Americans comes from a randomized clinical trial of gestational phosphatidylcholine supplementation versus placebo that included 15 Black Americans. Phosphatidylcholine increased gestational age at birth and newborn P50 inhibition and decreased Social Withdrawn and Attention problems at 40 months of age in Black Americans’ offspring compared to placebo. Inhibitory and behavioral deficits associated with lower prenatal choline in offspring of Black American women indicate potential developmental predispositions to later mental illnesses that might be ameliorated by prenatal choline or phosphatidylcholine supplementation.