Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Scott Gaynor

Second Advisor

David Huffman


The purpose of this paper is to explore the effects maternal diet and psychological health have on fetal cognitive development. The lack of research on the impact maternal wellbeing has on fetal development, both immediate and long-term is what prompted this review to be conducted. There is extensive research on the implications nutritional health has on the physiology of a person as well as the effect psychological health can have on the overall wellbeing of a person. However, these variables have seldom been considered in combination with one another and much less frequently have they been applied to the area of maternal and fetal health. Research for this literature review was organized into a systematic evaluation and analysis of peer-reviewed and primary journal publications. Electronic databases were used to gather all of the information. This thesis selectively reviewed twelve sources to evaluate the ways in which maternal nutritional and psychological health can affect fetal brain development and subsequently cognitive development. It was found that maternal nutritional intake and maternal psychological health can significantly impact the intrauterine environment which subsequently has a great effect on the progression of fetal brain development during the gestation period as well as its maturation postnatally. These alterations in brain structure consequently affect how cognitive development occurs in the child. It was concluded that maternal health has both short-term and long-term implications for fetal development. Once these effects were identified, the clinical implications were also examined to help better the treatment and health of future expecting mothers.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted

Restricted to Campus until