Eating More Fish During Pregnancy Improves Infant Intellect
Study results counter government advice for pregnant woman to limit fish
to be published in the April issue of the American Journal of
Epidemiology adds to the groundswell of new, independent science that
shows moms who eat more than the U.S. government recommended amount of
fish during pregnancy have the brainiest babies.
The Harvard Medical School-led study followed over 300 mother-child
pairs to determine the effect on babies of eating different amounts of
fish during pregnancy. Moms who fueled up on more than two servings of
fish per week during their second trimester of pregnancy had
three-year-olds with the most advanced motor skills. Moms who limited
their seafood to two servings (12 ounces) of seafood per week, as
recommended by several U.S government agencies, saw no cognitive
benefit for their children when compared with other children whose
mothers ate more than 12 ounces of fish weekly during pregnancy.
Even before this new study came out, there was significant
scientific evidence that moms should be encouraged to eat at least two
weekly servings of a variety of fish during pregnancy said Mary A.
Harris, PhD, RD an expert in fetal nutrition from Colorado State
University. Now the case is stronger yet that limiting the amount of
seafood you eat while pregnant can give your baby a disadvantage from
day one. The tide is beginning to turn from a focus on trace amounts of
mercury to the overall beneficial effects of eating fish.
Results show pregnant women who ate more fish, naturally, had higher
mercury levels. Nonetheless, researchers observed no overall adverse
outcomes among children whose moms ate the most fish. These findings
are consistent with a 2007 landmark study of nearly 12,000 mothers and
children in the United Kingdom. Researchers with the National
Institutes of Health found optimal child development among mothers who
ate more than 12 ounces of seafood per week, suggesting that government
advice to limit seafood consumption could be detrimental. Similarly, research
published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recently found
the typical American diet, low in seafood, is deficient in omega-3
fatty acids and may pose a risk to babies developing eyes and brains.
This new science comes at a time when women are confused about the
benefits and misinformed about the concerns of eating fish, which
contributes to seafood-deficient diets. Inadequate intake of fish is
confirmed by data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination
Survey (NHANES), which shows 90 percent of women are consuming fish
less than twice a week.
For more than 60 years, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI)
and its members have provided American families with the variety of
sustainable seafood essential to a healthy diet. For more information