Fish Mercury: Nutrients In Fish Outweigh Mercury Risk For Fetuses, Study Finds

Jan 22, 2015 12:57 PM EST | By Victoria Guerra

After years of doctors preventing issues with fish mercury by advising future mothers to take it easy with fish consumption during pregnancy, a new study shows that perhaps consumption of fish could actually prevent fetuses from having development issues later on as it had been previously suggested.

Traditionally, fish mercury had turned into an issue for future mothers, as it was advised that women who enjoyed a diet rich in fish and shellfish should keep it lower during pregnancy, as it could potentially harm their unborn children and cause developmental issues later on in their lives, though it seems this has been a long-standing misconception.

According to Science Daily, the new paper regarding fish and mercury is entitled "Prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from fish consumption and polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with child development at 20 mo of age in an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles," and it was published on the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

WebMD reports that the fish mercury study followed women from the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean over decades, as they consumed a diet rich in ocean fish and shellfish in a rate that's much higher than that of American women at any time, including pregnancy.

As Medical Daily reports, the press release by the investigators showed that the women studied, who consumed an average of 12 fish meals per week, gave birth to healthy children who didn't experience any developmental issues at all, something that had been previously feared as being linked to "excessive" fish consumption during the gestation period.

"These findings show no overall association between prenatal exposure to mercury through fish consumption and neurodevelopmental outcomes," said Edwin van Wijngaarden, one of the co-authors of the fish mercury study, in a press release. "It is also becoming increasingly clear that the benefits of fish consumption may outweigh, or even mask, any potentially adverse effects of mercury."

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