Eating reasonable amounts of fish while pregnant, could benefit the children’s brain during his growth, a large study in Spain showed.
Almost 2,000 mothers and children were analyzed from the first trimester of pregnancy through the child’s growth. Researchers found significant improvement in brain functions in the kids whose mothers ate the most fish while pregnant, compared to kids whose mother ate the least.
Those children, from 14 months to five years, showed better test results on their cognitive abilities and Asperger Syndrome traits to assess their neuropsychological development. The analysis also demonstrated a consistent reduction in autism-spectrum traits with the increases of seafood consumption.
The researchers tested constantly the women for blood levels of vitamin D and iodine. The cord’s blood was also tested for mercury and its levels, making sure the consumption would not be unhealthy.
“Seafood is known to be an important source of essential nutrients for brain development, but at the same time accumulates mercury from the environment, which is known to be neurotoxic,” lead author Jordi Julvez, of the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, said in an email to Reuters.
Even though authorities in the U.S. recommended for pregnant women to eat fish, but not more than 12 ounces per week, the Spanish study did not found any sign that mercury or other pollutants associated with fish were having a negative effect that offset the apparent benefits.
In Europe, they also have recommendations for women expecting to eat fish, they are a little bit more permissible than the Americans but they still recommend 150g to 600g of fish weekly during pregnancy.
The women that did good in the Spanish study consumed, on average, about 500g of seafood, but every additional 10g eaten showed betters test scores in their children. It was more notorious when the kids were 5 years old.
Julvez said that, in general, people should follow the currents recommendations, but he pointed out that the study showed that some of them should be less stringent, especially in America.
The researchers recommend to avoid the fish with the highest levels of mercury like catfish, shark, swordfish and giant mackerel.