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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released its report: A Quantitative Assessment of the Net Effects on Fetal Neurodevelopment from Eating Commercial Fish (As Measured by IQ and also by Early Age Verbal Development in Children). By evaluating the benefits and potential concerns of eating fish during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the analysis suggests that pregnant women consuming two seafood meals (8–12 oz) per week could provide their child with an additional 3.3 IQ points by age 9. Recent insights from behavioral economics research indicate that other factors, such as concerns about price and methylmercury (MeHg) exposure, appear to reduce fish consumption in many individuals.
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.