Give a woman a fish, and you feed her for a day. Give a pregnant woman a lot of fish, and, well, her baby will probably be bigger. Mangled proverb aside, it’s no fish tale: a new meta analysis of 19 European studies suggests that eating the ocean’s bounty while pregnant does result in bigger babies for moms.
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and examined in the April edition of the PUFA Newsletter: Research Summaries for Health Professionals About Healthy Fats.
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The study analyzed finding from 19 European birth cohort studies from a dozen countries involved 151,880 mother-infant pairs. In adjusted analysis, more frequent fish consumption during pregnancy was associated with higher birth weight. Adding salmon to those pickles and ice cream did make a difference. The consumption of fatty fish compared with lean fish was also more strongly related to birth weight.
Compared with women who ate fish once or less often per week, infants of mothers who ate fish less than or three times per week were 15 grams heavier. However, fish consumption was unrelated to the overall risk of having a low or high birth weight infant or small-for-gestational-age infants. More frequent fish consumption and greater intakes of fatty fish were most closely associated with birth weight, but were less important factors in gestational age and risk of preterm delivery, according to the PUFA Newsletter article.
The study’s authors conclude: “This large, international study indicates that moderate fish intake during pregnancy is associated with lower risk of preterm birth and a small but significant increase in birth weight.”
Not only might moms’ fish consumption result in healthier birth weights, it may also lead to better math SAT scores. No joke. Children of mothers who consumed higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) when pregnant may be better at math, according to a study published in Maternal and Child Nutrition. Time for salmon smoothies, all you pregnant ladies!