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Pregnancy 'makes women's brains sharper'

Although many women feel that their brain-power is stunted during pregnancy, new research has revealed that the opposite is more likely to be true.
Researchers at the Australian National University in Canberra spent ten years investigating the effects of pregnancy on women's brains and found that "baby brain" syndrome is an urban myth.

Although many women claim to suffer a slump in mental and verbal abilities during the pregnancy, the condition actually improves cognitive skills, the researchers found.

Chief researcher, Professor Helen Christensen, explained that women's faculties adjust in the early stages of motherhood to enable them to deal with unexpected and stressful occurrences.

Professor Christensen interviewed 2,500 women aged from 20 to 24, first in 1999 and then in 2004 and 2008.

She found that when the women were pregnant, they performed no worse on tests of logic and memory than when they were not.

"It really leaves the question open as to why [pregnant] women - and, often, their partners - think they have poor memories, when the best evidence we have is that they don't," she told the Guardian.

"Perhaps women notice minor lapses in mental ability and then attribute it to being pregnant because that is the most significant thing in their mind at the time. Or sleep deprivation could mask the positive cognitive effects."

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