Is Consuming Fish Really Safe for Pregnant Women and Their Unborn Children?

Despite all the evidence about harmful mercury levels in fish, a new study may tempt expecting mothers with promises their unborn children will have higher IQs one day.

Researchers tracked the diets of some 12,000 future moms in the UK, starting at week 32 of their pregnancies until eight years after their children were born. Based on completing a series of questionnaires, scientists concluded women who ate more than 340 grams of fish or seafood (roughly three-fourths of a pound) every week had smarter children with improved social and communications skills.

No surprise, the opposite was true about women who ate no fish at all, as their children were nearly half as likely to possess lower verbal IQ scores.

Although mercury levels weren't a reported problem in this study, it doesn't mean you should ignore the very real risks associated with eating fish, especially tuna, shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Fact is, women who eat a lot of fish during their pregnancies -- even as little as a single serving of a highly contaminated fish -- can expose their unborn child to excessive, health-harming amounts of mercury.

The real need for moms and their babies: Getting a safe essential amount of omega-3 fats every day, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential element of a child's development, in particular. Your best source for omega-3 fats: Consuming a high quality fish oil or krill oil daily.

The Lancet, Vol. 369, No. 9561, February 17, 2007: 578-585 Free Full Text Study

BBC News February 15, 2007

Seattle Post-Intelligencer February 16, 2007