Good news from the UK for mothers-to-be and those of us whom aspire. A British-American study found that children whose mothers consumed at least three servings (12oz.) of fish a week during pregnancy, score higher on mental functioning tests. Conversely, occurrences of low verbal IQ and suboptimum social behavior, motor activity, and communication were far more common in the children of women who consumed less than 12 ounces of seafood during pregnancy.
This report contradicts previous advice from two prominent US government agencies: the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2004, they released warnings to the public against possible risks of ingesting mercury contained in seafood.
The source of intellect seems to be high levels of omega-3-fatty acids in fish, which also exists in walnuts and flaxseeds. Scientists believe adequate amounts of long-chain fatty acids are essential for children's cognitive development.
The study declares, "the beneficial effects of the nutrients in fish far outweigh the risk." Although the EPA and FDA have been briefed on the study, neither group plans to change guidelines on the basis of one report.
Despite the possibility of mercury toxicity, mothers-to-be who eat three servings of seafood a week greatly assist the cognitive development of their unborn children. The study found no evidence in its research, nor its results supporting the possibilities of mercury toxicity. Since the fish in England generally have a higher methyl-mercury content than the fish in the US, Americans can be confident that the claims of the report are applicable to them as well.
Medline Plus. Fish During Pregnancy Helps Child's Development. Available at: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_45386.html. Accessed February 20, 2007.