Study of 9,000 families points to value of seafood·
Finding contradicts official advice to limit intake
A study of 9,000 British families suggests that women who eat seafood during pregnancy could have brainier children. The research suggests that those who avoid fish or do not eat enough of it risk depriving their unborn children of important nutrients that are needed to help brain development.
The advice contradicts previous warnings by health experts suggesting pregnant women should limit the amount of fish they consume because of potentially dangerous pollutants in seafood.
In the US the government advises women to limit their intake of seafood to 12 ounces (340gm) a week, to protect the unborn child from pollutants such as methyl mercury, which can affect the development of the brain.
Jean Golding, one of the scientists at Bristol University who conducted the study, said setting limits on the amount of fish women should consume could be problematic. "It can be very confusing. [When limits are set] the assumption is sometimes made that the less you eat the better. In the US particularly some women stopped eating fish altogether."
She said the only fish that women should avoid were swordfish, shark and fresh tuna, as these could contain greater quantities of pollutants. "These fish are at the top of the food chain, so they have been eating other fish and storing pollutants throughout their life."
She added that children with mothers who during pregnancy had cut out fish were "less likely to fulfil their potential in terms of behaviour and skills".
Professor Golding advised women who felt they did not like fish to take omega-3 supplements as an alternative.
The Food Standards Agency advises mothers to avoid shark, swordfish and marlin, and to limit consumption of fresh tuna. The FSA website says mothers-to-be need have no more than two portions of oily fish, such as fresh tuna, mackerel and sardines, a week, but it also urges that enough fish is eaten during the course of the pregnancy. The website states: "Remember that eating fish is good for your health and the development of your baby, so you should still aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one portion of oily fish."
Source - Guardian