7 Things That Happen During Pregnancy That Can Determine A Baby's Personality & Intelligence

Pregnancy is eventful, there's no doubt about it, and while it can be easy to fall into a mindset of focusing on what's going on during pregnancy — and ignoring how it might affect things later on — you should still know the potential impact. Some of things that you choose to do during your pregnancy, as well as some of the things that happen to you, can have far-reaching consequences beyond your pregnancy itself. You might want to know about morning sickness and other pregnancy habits that can determine a baby's personality and intelligence because some of what you go through (and opt to do) during pregnancy can actually affect your baby more than you might think.

You probably already know that drinking alcohol, doing drugs, smoking, eating certain foods, and more can all have an impact on the health and well-being of both you and your baby, but some of what you deal with while pregnant can have an impact in ways that you might not expect. From morning sickness to when your baby is born, certain things you eat, and more, some of what happens while you're pregnant can help determine a whole number of things, ranging from your baby's intelligence to even personality traits.


Eating Licorice

You might not think that licorice is all that big of a deal to eat while you're pregnant, or maybe you've heard that you might need to be warier of it than you would've thought. A 2009 study from researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and the University of Helsinki in Finland found that eating licorice while you're pregnant can actually have a potentially negative impact on your baby's intelligence down the road. The silver lining? You have to eat about 100 grams of licorice each week in order to potentially experience these negative effects.


When You Give Birth

You may or may not have a ton of control over exactly when your baby comes, but how many weeks pregnant you are when you give birth might also have an effect on your baby's learning later on. The New York Daily News reported that a 2012 study published in Pediatrics found that babies born closer to 41 weeks had stronger reading and math skills than babies born closer to 37 weeks.

Again, this isn't something that's always within your control, but it's still interesting and important to know how something like that might affect your baby.



The amount of stress that you're under while pregnant can also play a role. Live Science reported that researchers Elysia Poggi Davis and Pilyoung Kim, have found that stress hormones that babies can be exposed to when you're pregnant can have longer-lasting effects than you might think. Davis found that the area of the brain that experts think deals with regulating emotions can be thinner in older kids who were exposed to a lot of glucocorticoids while they were in utero.



You've likely heard that exercise can be good while you're pregnant (though you should still consult your doctor or another qualified expert for the specifics), but you may not realize that beyond keeping you healthy, it can also have some positive effects on your baby. Nature reported that researchers found that exercise can increase the number of neurons in a baby's hippocampus, which deals with learning and memory, by about 40 percent. That's a pretty big boost, but it was also a study conducted in mice, so scientists aren't exactly sure how it might affect humans. That being said, there's still research that says that kids might be positively impacted by Mom's exercise habits while pregnant, which these researchers noted.


Morning Sickness

Morning sickness isn't exactly something that moms-to-be particularly love, for the most part, but it might actually tell you something interesting about your little one. Reuters reported that a 2009 study by Canadian researchers found that morning sickness might actually be tied to mental development and intelligence. The researchers noted that these kids were still within normal ranges on intelligence tests, but that they scored higher in certain areas, particularly if their mothers had more intense morning sickness, indicating that there might be an association there.


Thyroid Issues

Whether you've had a thyroid issue and didn't know about it before or develop one during your pregnancy, that too could have an impact on your baby's development. Dr. Lise Eliot, PhD, the author of What's Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life, told Parents that either too much or not enough thyroid hormone in your blood while you're pregnant can be detrimental. Levels that are too low can be related to a lower IQ later on.


Eating More Omega-3s

Eating a healthy diet, generally, is important when you're pregnant, but some of what you choose to eat might be more important than other things. The BBC noted that omega-3s are particularly important because research has shown that they might boost mental development. Just make sure that you're eating the right kinds of things — talk to your doctor or check out government guidelines to be sure.