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Pregnant Women Eating Fish Boost Child's Intelligence

Armen Hareyan's picture

Women eating more fish during pregnancy have higher chances to have intelligent children.

A team of researchers from Harvard University examined 341 mothers and their 3 year old children. Children completed two different tests to evaluate different aspects of intelligence. Children whose mothers ate fish more than twice a week during pregnancy showed better scores in language and motor skills.

However, scientists warn that eating too much fish may have bad impact as well depending upon the type of fish. For example, fatty acids contained in fish are very beneficial for health, but mercury - heavy metal found in some types of fish - carries health risk.

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"Maternal fish intake more than twice a week was associated with improved performance on tests of language and motor skills. Dietary recommendations for pregnant women should incorporate the nutritional benefits as well as the risks of fish intake," said the Harvard University researchers.

Fish with light meat, like sardines, canned light tuna contain relatively more fatty acids and less mercury. Other types of fish with white meat, like cod and haddock contain lower levels of both mercury and fatty acids. Fish with dark meat, like swordfish and mackerel contain higher levels of both mercury and fatty acids. Pregnant women are advised to avoid eating shark, swordfish and marlin because of mercury.

Researchers explain that omega-3 fatty acids are responsible for neurological development. This is why children whose mothers eat more fatty fish during pregnancy have better developed intelligence.

Pregnant women need to be properly informed about nutrition benefits and risks. They need to eat fish more than twice a week and to keep the balance of nutrition facts in mind, because while fatty acid rich food improves child's intelligence, mercury rich food makes it poorer.