Researchers have found that the amount of fish a woman eats during pregnancy may affect her child’s chances of developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), reports The Telegraph.
The study revealed that children whose mums ate two portions of fish a week during pregnancy had a 60% lower risk of developing ADHD, but also highlighted that the type of fish eaten was key and that pregnant women should avoid eating too much fish which is high in mercury, including tuna.
The researchers claim to have found a link between elevated mercury levels and a higher incidence of ADHD symptoms, although they did not determine that the mercury in fish can cause ADHD.
More importantly, researchers found a lower incidence of ADHD behaviours among children whose mothers ate fish more than twice a week before and during pregnancy.
“The really important message is to eat fish,” said the study’s lead author Sharon Sagiv.
Sharon explained that pregnant women should avoid ‘big’ fish, such as shark, marlin and swordfish, which usually contain higher levels of mercury, and instead opt for smaller species like sardines and mackerel.
“The take home message for pregnant mothers is that eating fish is good for the future behaviour of her child,” said Jean Golding, professor of Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology at University of Bristol, according to The Daily Mail.
The Food Standards Agency commented: “Our advice is that pregnant women and women intending to be pregnant shouldn’t eat more than four medium-sized cans or two fresh tuna steaks per week. They should also avoid shark, marlin and swordfish.”