Prenatal low mercury fish intake is good for kids' brains

May 29, 2008 in Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Prenatal low mercury fish intake is good for kids' brains

Children of mothers who ate more fish during pregnancy score higher on cognitive tests than children of mothers who avoided seafood while pregnant, say researchers from Harvard Medical School.

In this new report, 341 women were asked about their fish intake during their second trimester of pregnancy. At three years of age, their children completed a series of cognitive tests to determine if prenatal fish intake had an effect on brain function.

On average, the women ate 1.5 servings of fish each week during their pregnancy. (One serving of fish is equal to 2.5 ounces or 75 grams.)

Children of mothers who ate fish at least twice a week during pregnancy achieved the highest cognitive test scores - with one exception.

Children of mothers with high blood levels of mercury scored lower on the tests. These women ate fish - such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and fresh tuna - with high amounts of mercury.

Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential in early brain development. Nutrition experts recommended eating low mercury, high omega-3 fish - such as salmon, lake trout, sardines and herring - two to three times per week during pregnancy.

For ideas on how to make fish for dinner tonight, check out our August 2002 Featured Food.

For more information on nutrition during pregnancy, pick up a copy of Leslie Beck's Nutrition Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy.

This study appears in the May 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.