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Fish In Mother's Diet Benefits Child

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A large study has found that children of women who ate little fish during pregnancy had lower IQs and more behavioral and social problems than youngsters whose mothers ate plenty of seafood, a finding that challenges the U.S. government's standard advice to limit seafood while pregnant.

 

The study finds "no evidence to lend support to the warning of the U.S. advisory that pregnant women should limit their seafood consumption," concluded the team led by Joseph R. Hibbeln, a researcher at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, writing in the Lancet.

 

The study found that children born to women who ate about three servings of fish per week or less -- near the maximum advised by the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency -- had lower verbal IQs, more problems with fine motor skills, and higher rates of behavioral and social difficulties, compared to youngsters whose mothers consumed more seafood during pregnancy.

 

The advice to limit seafood consumption is based on concerns that children might absorb too much methyl mercury, which builds up in fish and can cause neurological problems.

 

"Higher maternal fish consumption results in children showing better neurological function than children whose mothers ate low amounts of or no fish during pregnancy," Gary Myers, a professor of neurology and pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in an editorial accompanying the study. "These results highlight the importance of including fish in the maternal diet during pregnancy and lend support to the popular opinion that fish is brain food."

 

 

 

 

By Sally Squires

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, February 16, 2007; Page A03

 

 

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