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There has been speculation about a link between exposure to mercury during pregnancy and autism spectrum disorders, but limited data to support the theory. Researchers studied nearly 1800 mother/child pairs in the Republic of Seychelles, where people eat fish-rich diets and mercury levels are 10-20 higher than in the U.S. There was no association between exposure to mercury from eating a fish-rich diet during pregnancy and autism-like behaviors among 10-year-old children.
Researchers studied over 1,500 late middle aged adults without dementia to see how the levels of omega-3s in their blood are related to signs of future dementia. Adults with the lowest amount of the fish-based omega-3, DHA, in their blood had smaller brain volumes and poorer performance in tests of visual memory; abstract thinking; and planning, organization, and carrying out of tasks than adults with higher DHA levels.
Fish Consumption and Prenatal Methylmercury Exposure: Cognitive and Behavioral Outcomes in the Main Cohort at 17 Years from the Seychelles Child Development StudyAuthors: P. Davidson, et al. / Journal: NeuroToxicology, December 2011
The people of the Seychelles Islands eat fish daily and their mercury levels are among the highest in the world, over ten times that of samples in the United States. Researchers studied the children in this population through age 17 and found no consistent pattern of harm from prenatal mercury exposure. In fact, there was evidence of improved performance as prenatal mercury exposure increased because mercury is a marker for fish consumption, which contains nutrients with long-lasting brain benefits.