For quite some time now, I’ve been urging my colleagues to follow the science on the powerful impact of choline on the brain.
In May 2017, based on studies using genetically altered mice that show the developmental changes of Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease at 6 months,of whether prenatal choline could lead to the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
Thanks to the leadership of, now president-elect of the National Medical Association, while a member and immediate past chair of the American Medical Association’s minority affairs section governing council*, the AMA ’s delegates passed a to support an increase in choline in prenatal vitamins.
If the prenatal vitamin companies take the AMA’s resolution to heart and put more choline in their prenatal vitamins or if physicians in the United States pay attention to the AMA’s action and recommend pregnant women ensure they get adequate choline in their diets, the benefit to Americans’ public health could be staggering. Currently, it is known that choline deficiency – usually brought about by fetal alcohol exposure – is a public health problem, and choline deficiency is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disability. Public health efforts aimed at preventing intellectual disabilities from fetal alcohol exposure are designed to warn women about the risks of drinking during pregnancy; while this effort is commendable, it does not solve a very common problem – namely, women’s engaging in social drinking before they realize they are pregnant. ().
The late, former director of the Institute for Juvenile Research, under former President Jimmy Carter, and one of the of Head Start under former President Lyndon B. Johnson, used to say that, in order to institutionalize a public policy, you need a solid scientific basis for the policy, a mechanism to actualize the policy, and the “political will” to do so. The AMA’s recommendation has the Institute of Medicine’s science behind it, so putting choline in prenatal vitamins or having physicians recommend that pregnant women get adequate doses of choline should be pretty easy to actualize. The political will to do this extremely important, biotechnical preventive intervention should be a no-brainer.
Should this AMA recommendation gain the traction it deserves, the American people might see a substantial decrease in the prevalence of premature and low-birth-weight infants, intellectual disability, ADHD, speech and language difficulties, epilepsy, heart defects, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, school failure, juvenile delinquency, violence, and suicide – all of which seem to be tied to choline deficiency.
*This story was updated August 17, 2017.