Being pregnant entails a lot of banned foods from the diet due to their effects on the development of the baby. Fish is one of the foods not allowed to be eaten by pregnant mothers due to the exposure of the fetus to its mercury content. Mercury exposure is said to cause alterations in the development of the fetus. However, a new study reveals that there are actually developmental benefits if the mother would eat fish while pregnant.
Fish contains a lot of fatty acids like omega 3 which is very important for brain development. According to the American Pregnancy Association, Omega 3 is known for both neurological and early visual development of the baby. Also, it is needed as a supplement because the fetus is using up the mother's stores of Omega-3 that might predispose her to its deficiency.
Omega-3 fatty acids have positive effects on the pregnancy itself. When the mother would consume more Omega-3 rich foods, it can prevent pre-term labor and there is lower risk for pre-eclampsia. In addition, it can help increase the birth weight of the fetus. Low levels of Omega-3 in the maternal body can lead to depression and may provide a clue on the development of post-partum blues.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now trying to revise guidelines on fish consumption in pregnancy in an attempt to better show the nutritional benefits of fish and fish oil. Now, they are recommending pregnant women to consume fish no more than twice a week. This is due to the possible mercury content of fish that may also cause problems.
In the study as reported by Medical News Today, University of Rochester Medican Center, Ulster University, Republic of Seychelles Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Education have made Seychelles Child Development Study. Around 1,500 mothers and children were participants in the study. The children's developmental skills were assessed through series of tests which started at 20 months after birth and then followed up when they were in their 20s.
Aside from that hair samples were taken from pregnant mothers to the researchers could gauge the levels of prenatal mercury exposure. They found out that the mercury exposure levels of mothers were not associated with low test scores. After following up the children, it was found out that there is no connection between eating fish to impaired neurological development.
Philip Davidson, PhD, the principal investigator of the Seychelles Child Development Study, a professor emeritus at the University of Rochester and senior author of the study, says, "It appears that the relationship between fish nutrients and mercury may be far more complex than previously appreciated. These findings indicate that there may be an optimal balance between the different inflammatory properties of fatty acids that promote fetal development and that these mechanisms warrant further study."
Also, they found out that Omega-3 can counteract the effects of mercury exposure.