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Maternal consumption of fish to improve child cognition

Posted:  Monday, December 28, 2015

Fish diet improves cognition! An essential fatty acid from fish, Docosa hexaenoic acid (DHA), is deemed vital for brain development in offspring. A study from Spain has found that consumption of fish as part of the pregnancy diet may protect against autism in offspring.

The study published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology, followed about 2,000 mothers and their offspring, from conception till age five. The weekly maternal consumption of fish was noted. The offspring were evaluated for intelligence quotient (IQ).

The study findings indicate that the offspring whose mothers ate 3-4 servings of fish every week during pregnancy had higher IQ scores than those whose mothers ate less fish. Tuna and tilefish are generally contraindicated in pregnancy due to their high mercury content, yet they conferred the greatest developmental benefits.

This contradiction may be explained by higher levels of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish that offsets the detrimental impact of mercury on neurological development of the offspring. The lead author of the study, Jordi Julvez from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain explained that, “Maybe this effect is masking the negative effects that come from mercury... or maybe this is more beneficial than the toxic effect of the mercury itself.”

The neuropsychological benefits that stem from fish consumption include protection from autism-spectrum traits. Consequently, fish not only add variety to the food menu during pregnancy, but also provide cognitive benefits to the offspring.

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