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Mudford, England by Ralph Teller
Ralph Teller

Fish Consumption During Pregnancy Protects against ADHD. Mercury tainted Fish increases ADHD risks.

by Ralph Teller

Women should know nutrients in fish benefit fetus brain development, but Mercury free fish is best!

A recent study has found that (i) low-level prenatal mercury exposure is associated with a greater risk of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) related behaviors and (ii) fish consumption during pregnancy is protective against these behaviors.

The study found a protective association against ADHD for fish consumption of greater than 2 servings per week. Pregnant women that consumed more than 2 fish servings weekly helped protect their child from ADHD type behaviors, especially in impulsivity and hyperactivity.

"Women need to know that nutrients in fish are good for the brain of a developing fetus, but women [also] need to be aware that high mercury level in some fish pose a risk." said lead author of the study, Sharon Sagiv, PhD.

Results also showed that not only was mercury exposure associated with inattention and impulsivity/hyperactivity, but the risk for these behaviors increased with maternal hair mercury levels.

The key is for women to know which seafood is low in mercury. Previous studies have shown that certain fish are more likely or less likely to contain mercury. Here is a list of fish less likely and more likely to contain mercury.

Fish Likely LOW of Mercury Fish with HIGHER Mercury
Salmon Shark
Haddock Tuna (Bigeye, Ahi, Yellowfin, Albacore)
Flounder Swordfish
Anchovies Mackerel (King, Spanish, Gulf)
Catfish Marlin
Herring Swordfish
Sardines Tilefish
Whitefish Bluefish
Trout Grouper
Talapia Orange Roughy
Squid, Clams, Shrimp, Oysters Sea Bass (Chilean)

The study was published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine and conducted in part by Susan Korrick, MD, assistant professor Harvard Medical School and Sharon Sagiv, PhD, MPH, from Boston University School of Public Health in Massachusetts. Soon after birth, hair samples were collected from mothers and analyzed for mercury levels. The mothers also filled out a questionnaire regarding fish consumption during pregnancy. 788 infants were enrolled in the study.

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Pregnancy Health

PublicationPrenatal Exposure to Mercury and Fish Consumption During Pregnancy and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder–Related Behavior in Children, Sharon K. Sagiv, PhD, MPH, Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med

PublicationMercury Contamination in Fish, Natural Resources Defense Council

PublicationRisk Factors for Preterm Birth in an International Prospective, PLoSOne

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