New information on seafood consumption during pregnancy could have more mothers-to-be heading to the fish market.
Research reveals that children of mothers who eat seafood, as compared to those whose mothers do not, have:
- An average IQ 7.7 points higher
- Higher attainment rate of milestones at six and 18 months
- No adverse effects even at the highest seafood consumption levels.
The study looked at seafood consumption during pregnancy and early childhood for 102,944 mother-child pairs and 25,031 individual children.
The findings build on existing nutritional wisdom. The Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans all advise pregnant women to eat two to three servings of seafood each week.
Nevertheless, many mothers-to-be avoid or under consume seafood. That may be because of persistent myths about prenatal fish consumption. Some misconceptions linger due to early government recommendations and revisions, which lacked concrete evidence and created confusion. Media have played a role too, sensationalizing risks and downplaying proven benefits.
Today, however, an abundance of information enables agencies to make concrete, evidence-based nutritional recommendations. Pregnant women can make nutrition decisions based on two certainties: Fish and shellfish provide immense benefits to developing babies both before and after birth. And benefits increase as seafood consumption increases, though even the lowest levels of consumption can boost babies’ development.
Mothers want to do what is best for their babies. With the help of clear data on prenatal fish consumption and a unified voice from nutritional authorities, more mothers will be able to do just that.