A new study has advised pregnant women to embrace a diet rich in fish, saying it could enhance the development of their child’s eyesight and brain function.
The small-scale study was led by Kirsi Laitinen of the University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Finland.
According to the study, fatty acids present in a fish-rich diet help to shape the nerve cells that are relevant to eyesight and particularly the retina.
They are also important in forming the synapses that are vital to the transport of messages between neurons in the nervous system.
To arrive at the findings, Laitinen and other researchers analysed the results of 56 mothers and their children drawn from a larger study.
The mothers had to keep a regular food diary during the course of their pregnancy.
Using a non-invasive method, their children’s visual functioning and maturational changes were tested around their second birthday.
The researchers found that infants whose mothers ate fish three or more times a week during the last trimester of their pregnancy fared better than those whose mothers ate no fish or only up to two portions per week.
“The results of our study suggest that frequent fish consumption by pregnant women is of benefit for their unborn child’s development,” Laitinen said.
“This may be attributable to long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids within fish, but also due to other nutrients like vitamin D and E, which are also important for development.
“Our study therefore highlights the potential importance of subtle changes in the diet of healthy women with uncompromised pregnancies, beyond prematurity or nutritional deficiencies, in regulating infantile neurodevelopment.”
The study has been published in the journal Pediatric Research.
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