Spanish scientists have discovered that children whose mothers ate 3-4 servings of fish a week during pregnancy had higher IQ scores than children whose mothers ate less fish. They also found that eating fish during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of developing autism in the child.
“Eating too much oily fish during pregnancy improves cognitive functions and provides some protection against autism,” said the researchers.
But they were especially surprised by the fact that some types of fish, such as tuna or kapelnik, which is contraindicated for pregnant women due to the high content of mercury, have been associated with the great advantages to a child’s development.
“The data indicate that high levels of compounds called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may outweigh any negative impacts of mercury”, said the researchers.
“Tuna contains mercury, but it also has higher levels of DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in brain development,” says lead author of the study from Jordi Julvez Centre for research in environmental epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain.
The study involved about 2,000 mothers and their children, starting from the first trimester of pregnancy and until the child is 5 years old.
The study was published in “The American Journal of Epidemiology”.