Benefits of fish in moderation while pregnant outweigh risks for child

Benefits of fish in moderation while pregnant outweigh risks for child

News from DCEXS-UPF

To eat or not to eat fish is a question that has long concerned pregnant women. Now, an international study led by USC study shows that children whose mothers ate fish from one to three times a week during pregnancy were more likely to have a better metabolic profile — despite the risk of exposure to mercury — than children whose mothers ate fish rarely (less than once a week). The findings appeared in JAMA Network Open. In Barcelona, the CRG/UPF Proteomics Unit and researchers from the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal) have contributed to the study.

"Fish is an important source of nutrients, and its consumption should not be avoided", said Leda Chatzi, associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the senior investigator on the study. "But pregnant women should stick to one to three servings of fish a week as recommended, and not eat more, because of the potential contamination of fish by mercury and other persistent organic pollutants".

Fish is a major source of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids which are important for the developing fetus. However, some types, such as swordfish, shark and mackerel, can contain high levels of mercury - a potent toxin that can cause permanent neurological damage. 

Researchers looked at 805 mother and child pairs from five European countries participating in a collaborative research project known as the HELIX study, led by ISGlobal, which is following women and their children from pregnancy onwards.


Stratakis N, Conti DV, Borras E, et al. Association of Fish Consumption and Mercury Exposure During Pregnancy With Metabolic Health and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Children. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(3):e201007.

More information:
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