Expectant mothers can take heart this Easter. Tucking into chocolate eggs is good for the baby, according to a study of over 300 women – especially if you are feeling a bit on edge.
Katri Raikkonen at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and her colleagues asked pregnant women to rate their stress levels and chocolate consumption.
After the babies were born, they looked for an association between the amount of chocolate their mothers had eaten and the babies’ behaviour. Six months after birth, the researchers asked mothers to rate their infants’ behaviour in various categories, including fear, soothability, smiling and laughter.
The babies born to women who had been eating chocolate daily during pregnancy were more active and “positively reactive” – a measure that encompasses traits such as smiling and laughter.
And the babies of stressed women who had regularly consumed chocolate showed less fear of new situations than babies of stressed women who abstained.
The researchers point out that they cannot rule out the possibility that chocolate consumption and baby behaviour are both linked with some other factor.
But they speculate that the effects they observed could result from chemicals in chocolate associated with positive mood being passed on to the baby in the womb.