Pregnant women are advised to eat healthy foods, which directly impacts their children's health. There are many foods that are a must-have during pregnancy but seafood is something unheard of when it comes to pregnancy diet. A new study by a team of scientists from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) discovered a strong connection between seafood consumption during pregnancy and children's cognitive functioning. The team studied and verified the importance of eating a diet rich in lean and fatty fish during the initial phase of pregnancy. The findings that were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, suggest that a seafood-rich diet during early pregnancy may lead to better attention outcomes in children.
The scientists stressed on the fact that the neuron formation and brain development of children begins during pregnancy. Essential nutrients such as Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play a big role in this process. And, seafood is a great source of this kind of nutrient.
Jordi Julvez, head of the Childhood & Environment Programme at ISGlobal said, “There is a need to test the fetal programming theoretical framework in nutritional epidemiology. We evaluated whether maternal seafood intake during pregnancy was associated with 8-year-old attention outcomes after adjusting for previous child seafood intake and cognitive function.”
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For the research, 1644 mother-child pairs were roped in from the INMA (INfancia y Medio Ambiente) cohort study. “We used food frequency questionnaires to assess prenatal and postnatal seafood consumption of the mother-child pairs. We evaluated attention function of the children through the computer-based Attention Network Test (ANT) and we used the number of omission errors and the hit reaction time standard error (HRT-SE). We estimated associations using regression models, adjusting for family characteristics, child seafood intake and cognitive functions at early ages”, added Julvez.
The study analysed the effects of various types of seafood, mainly, fatty fish, lean fish, canned tuna and shellfish. Children whose mothers ate a diet rich in different types of seafood performed well on the attention tests. Similar results were found in the tests of children of those women who ate only fatty fish. But, children of mothers who consumed more of canned tuna or shellfish, performed relatively poorly.