London - Suddenly becoming scatty and forgetful has long been seen as part and parcel of becoming a mother.
But so-called “baby brain” may be a myth, scientists say. In fact, having a child may actually improve a woman’s memory.
In a series of experiments, new mothers scored better on tests of visuospatial memory – the ability to perceive and remember information about their surroundings – compared with women who didn’t have children.
Researcher Melissa Santiago from Carlos Albizu University in Miami said the findings counter the belief that women experience a decline in memory and cognitive function after they have children.
“You don’t have to feel that because you have kids, your memory isn’t the same,” she said as she presented her findings to a meeting of the American Psychological Association.
She studied two groups of women, 35 with children aged ten to 24 months and 35 who had never had children. Both groups scored similarly on intelligence tests, but the one with children did better on memory tests.
Research shows that the brain shrinks by up to five percent in pregnancy and returns to its normal size six months after childbirth.
During this time of regrowth, the brain may re-map itself in a way that is responsible for the memory changes seen in the study, Miss Santiago said.
Some even go so far as pretending that their baby is sleeping through the night long before most would be expected to.
The research was conducted for the website Netmums, which said parenting gurus were putting unnecessary pressure on new mothers by claiming that newborns should sleep through the night, when in reality only 26 percent do by 12 weeks old.
The study, of 10,766 families with children aged up to ten years, shows that only 63 percent of babies make it through the night with unbroken sleep by the time they are 12 months old. - Daily Mail