A large Spanish study found that eating fish during pregnancy could boost kids’ IQ, stave off autism. Researchers backed their findings with tests performed on kids whose moms reportedly had had generous servings of fish while they were carrying them.
The study involved nearly 2,000 women and their children. Both moms and their kids were monitored since the first trimester of pregnancy. The data clearly showed a significant link between fish consumption levels during pregnancy and brain benefits in kids later on.
Researchers found that fish consumption apparently improves children’s brain functions and shield them from autism and other conditions related to neuropsychological development. The kids of mothers who ate more fish during pregnancy scored better on tests measuring their cognitive abilities and creativity than kids whose moms stayed away from fish.
The study also revealed a link between seafood consumption in pregnant women and lower incidence of autism-spectrum disorder in their kids.
Mother’s vitamin D and iodine levels were also monitored during pregnancy. Additionally, researchers looked for mercury traces in the cord’s blood to see wether studies that had tied fish consumption to toxic mercury levels in ones blood would hold water.
Jordi Julvez, senior author of the study and researcher with the Barcelona, Spain-based Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, explained that fish and seafood contain significant levels of nutrients that help the baby’s brain to develop. But unfortunately, seafood often also contains high amounts of mercury which is considered to be toxic to the brain.
Nevertheless, while in the U.S. dietary guidelines recommend limits to fish consumption during pregnancy over mercury concerns, the Spanish study did not found mercury levels in fish to be so high as to offset the benefits fish may bring to the baby.
Europe also advise pregnant women to eat slightly more fish than expecting mothers in the U.S. While in the United States, a pregnant woman should not eat more than 12 ounces per week, in the E.U., it is ok for women to eat up to 600 g of fish every week while pregnant.
In the study, the women whose kids fared best on tests said that they ate on average about 500 g of fish every week. Study authors also found that each extra 10 g of fish were tied to improved scores in cognitive tests. But the most visible results were noticed in kids at the age of 5.
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