Fluid intelligence measurements of mothers and partners in Boston Medical Center's inner-city population
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BACKGROUND: Intelligence, as a measure of cognitive ability, is influenced by genetics and environment. Fluid intelligence, as an aspect of general intelligence, describes the ability to solve novel problems and is less reliant on previous knowledge and experience compared to other aspects of intelligence. Fluid intelligence is a particular useful indicator in studies of diverse populations, as fluid intelligence indicators are less likely than indicators of other aspects of intelligence to be significantly influenced by cultural factors, educational level, and language. Although fluid intelligence was previously thought to be primarily modulated by genetics, recent studies have shown that environment and its many factors have a greater role in shaping this aspect of cognition. Factors associated with a low-income environment, including dietary habits, are of interest when investigating effects on fluid intelligence in mothers from a low socioeconomic status population. METHODS: Participants were used from the Transgenerational Health Research InitiatiVE at Boston Medical Center. The Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Dietary Assessment Tool online reporting questionnaire was used to collect self-reported dietary intake from mothers two times during participation in the study, once prenatally and once postpartum. The Weschler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence Second Edition subtests of matrix reasoning and block design were used to assess fluid intelligence and were administered either prenatally or postpartum. A paired t-test was performed for determining statistical significance of fatty acid intake in the prenatal period versus postpartum period. Regression analysis was performed using stepwise selection to measure the correlation between fluid intelligence composite scores and fatty acid intake. RESULTS: No significant correlation was found between fluid intelligence composite scores and dietary intake of stearic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acid. Significant differences were found between prenatal and postpartum intake of oleic acid (omega-9) (p=0.0325) and linolenic acid (omega-3) (p=0.0065). CONCLUSION: The findings from this study suggest no correlation between fluid intelligence composite scores and dietary intake of stearic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic acid. However, the findings do suggest a significant difference between prenatal and postpartum dietary intake of oleic (omega-9) and linolenic (omega-3) acid. Repeating this study on a larger sample population with complete data (demographics, diet intake, and fluid intelligence) could provide additional evidence for a correlation between fatty acid intake and fluid intelligence.