Eating Fish When Pregnant Grows Better Baby Brains

Don’t pass on the fish this pregnancy! A new study shows that babies whose moms eat more fatty fish not only see better but have better brain function.

The University of Turku in Finland found that the healthy fatty acids in oily fish — think salmon, tuna, catfish, mackerel, flounder, pollock, and other ocean dwellers — improves neurological development in unborn babies. Babies whose moms ate fish at least 3 times per week during the third trimester of their pregnancy performed better on vision and neurological testing at 2 years old than those whose moms consumed fewer servings of fish a week.

The study, publish in Pediatric Research, highlights the continued importance of today’s lifestyle habits of expectant moms in the future health of their children.

Related: Study: Bonding With Your Unborn Baby Affects Baby’s Development After Birth

Other than relying on his mom’s diet during pregnancy, a baby’s only other major way of obtaining the healthy fat needed for brain growth is through breastfeeding. Any child’s brain develops the most during the first 3 years of life — to the tune of more than 1 million neural connections per second — and eating a healthy diet during pregnancy sets a firmer brain-building foundation for newborns.

Healthy fatty acids are also critical to shaping the nerve cells used for eyesight.

Turku researchers had women keep a food journal during their pregnancy, and took blood tests to confirm the amount of healthy fatty acids being consumed. Their babies were then tested for the level of healthy fats in their blood at 1 month old, and then given visual and neurological testing at 2 years old.

Photo credit: Niels Hariot/Shutterstock

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