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Seafood is the predominant source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for optimum neural development. Consumption of more than 340 grams of omega-3-rich seafood per week during pregnancy improves IQ scores in the offspring as well as their behaviour and social development.
The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) was used to assess the seafood consumption of 11,875 pregnant women in the UK. Their children’s IQ scores and other behavioural and social adjustments were assessed from the age of six months to eight years. The ALSPAC data showed that 12% of the women consumed no seafood, 65% consumed 1-340 grams per week and the remaining 23% consumed at least 340 grams per week.
In the USA, women are advised to limit their seafood intake to 340 g per week during pregnancy. However, this research shows that children of mothers who consumed less than 340 g/week of omega-3 rich seafood were more likely to have inferior neurodevelopment than children of mothers who consumed more seafood than recommended.
J R Hibbeln et al (2007) Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study. The Lancet, 369, 578-585.