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Prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from fish consumption and polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with child development at 20 mo of age in an observational study in the Republic of SeychellesAuthors: JJ Strain, et al. / Journal: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2015 , January 2015
This study investigated associations of prenatal fish intake, MeHg exposure and maternal PUFA (n-3 and n-6) status on child development at 20 months old. Participants used in the study were 1,265 mother-child pairs studied between 2008-2011. The study finds that there is a beneficial association between MeHg exposure on child development was observed when mothers had high n-3 levels. Overall, findings from the study suggest that n-6:n-3 ratio balance is “important when studying MeHg associations” and “may reflect the capability of n-6 PUFA or n-3 PUFA, at higher concentrations, to augment or counteract, respectively, MeHg-induced inflammation.”
In a study designed to estimate intake of PUFAs, identify sources of PUFA and estimate the proportion of US children aged 12-60 months eating fish by age, race and ethnicity it was found that 47% of children do not consume fish. The results from the study indicated DHA intake was low across all groups, and only 53.7% of children reported eating fish in the last 30 days. The study also found a greater percentage of non-Hispanic black children ate fish overall, and Mexican American children were more likely to have eaten shellfish than non-Hispanic white children. Total n-3 intake did not significantly change with age, but total n-6 intake increased significantly. Compared to other countries, US children consumed higher intake of total n-6 and demonstrated lower DHA and EPA intakes.
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.