According to research from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, eating more than 340 grams (12 ounces) of omega-3 rich seafood per week during pregnancy was associated with higher verbal IQ scores in children.
The findings, published in the Lancet, complied data from over 11,000 pregnant women. The women completed food frequency questionnaires to assess seafood consumption during pregnancy. The mental function of children was measured from age six months to eight years.
Researchers found that consumption of more than 340 grams of omega-3 rich seafood per week during pregnancy was associated with beneficial effects on child development, including higher verbal IQ.
Children from women who consumed no seafood were 48 percent more likely to be in the lowest quartile of verbal IQ scores, compared to women who consumed more than 340 grams. Children from women who consumed some seafood (but less than 340 grams), were 9 percent more likely to be in the lowest quartile compared to the highest consumption.
These findings are significant because they go against current recommendations to limit seafood consumption during pregnancy. Avoiding fish during pregnancy may do more harm than good by limiting a woman's intake of key nutrients for brain devlopment such as omega-3 fatty acids (DHA) and choline.
Canada's Food Guide recommends choosing low mercury fish fish that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as char, mackerel, salmon, sardines and trout.
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