Fish Consumption During Pregnancy Equals Better Brains For Babies

I’ve long extolled the importance of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which are found almost exclusively in seafood. This is especially true for women who are pregnant or nursing, as babies require abundant intake of these fats in order to build the best possible nervous system. Unfortunately, women have been given mixed messages about fish consumption during pregnancy: on the one hand, they may know about these important fats; but on the other hand, they’re given all sorts of warnings about mercury toxicity in fish, and how they should limit their consumption to protect their infants’ developing nervous systems!

According to a study recently completed by the NIH, the University of Bristol in Britain, and the University of Illinois in Chicago, advice to pregnant women to avoid fish or minimize fish consumption could well be damaging to their babies’ nervous system development. The study, which was published in the British journal Lancet, involved 9,000 women from Britain and their children. They participated in an eight-year study that evaluated the mother’s fish consumption during pregnancy and the motor skills and neurodevelopment of their children. Here’s what they found:

  • Children of mothers who ate less than 12 ounces of seafood a week while pregnant (the threshold that U.S. authorities have told pregnant women they should not exceed) had increased risk of poor verbal IQ development compared to children whose mothers ate more than 12 ounces of seafood a week.
  • The children of the mothers who ate less than 12 ounces of seafood a week also had increased risk of poor social development and poor motor control.

U.S. public health authorities are, at this writing, reviewing their recommendations in light of this research. In the meantime, expectant mothers can reap the benefits of fish without toxic threats by 1) consuming low-toxin fish such as wild-Alaskan salmon, sardines, and anchovies, and avoiding shark, tilefish, mackerel, tuna, and other large predatory fish; and 2) using a molecularly distilled brand of fish oil supplement that is guaranteed free of heavy metals and other toxins.


Photo credit by: simmbarb

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