For years, women have been warned not to eat fish while pregnant because of possible mercury poison affecting their baby’s brains. However, a recent study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that not only does there appear not to be any ill effects on the babies, but the babies whose mothers did not eat fish did not score as well as the babies whose mothers did eat fish.
The study was conducted in the Republic of Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The study followed 1,265 mothers in an area where the local diet is high in fish, and found that prenatal exposure to mercury in fish had no effect on the babies’ behavior, motor skills, and communication skills at 20 months. The mothers with higher polyunsaturated fatty acids from the fish had children who scored higher than those without.
This study shows that there is no link to prenatal exposure to mercury from fish and neurological problems. The anti-inflammatory properties of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in fish have actually been shown to counteract the inflammation from mercury, and possibly even undo mercury-related brain damage. It is becoming clear that the benefits of fatty acids from fish outweigh the risks, according to research. Because the fatty acids from fish are so important to the brain, it is illogical to avoid eating fish, but it is still a good idea to avoid fish that are at high risk for mercury poisoning, such as shark, sea bass from Chile, and Bluefin tuna from the Atlantic. Knowing where your fish comes from will help minimize the exposure risk. If you simply do not like fish, there are supplements that can give you the fatty acids you need. You can usually find these supplements at any grocery, drug store or other place where vitamins are sold.