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The advice to avoid fish in pregnancy is a little “fishy”
You want to give your little one the very best start in life, AND.. you want your baby to be normal ! You don’t want to be part of the autism stats.
So………… when health gurus tell you to AVOID FISH, because the fish are FULL OF MERCURY, and MERCURY causes AUTISM – you AVOID FISH, it is the right thing to do.
But is it ?
Fish are full of fabulous nutrients
Few health gurus suggest avoiding fish as a health move for anyone who is NOT PREGNANT.
In fact…………the advice out their suggests
- Toddlers should do it – Feed your toddler fish to wire in a life time of health
- Teens should do it – Being slapped by a fish once a week makes you smarter
- Scholars studying for exams should do it – Nibbling and sipping soda as you swot is causing brain rot
- The overweight should do it – The side effects of obesity stopped by omega-3s
- The forgetful should do it – Does Alzheimer’s begin with a shortage of omega-3 ?
- The stiff and sore should do it –Lubricate those joints with a daub of fish oil to prevent osteoarthritis
Because….. fish are full of nutrients that are good for you.
Top of the list are the omega-3 fish oils, but the list includes selenium, iodine, vitamin E and protein.
So does it makes sense for the mom-to-be not to do it ?
After all, as a mom to be, you’re building a brand new human being and the last thing you want, is to be short of specific raw materials.
Exposure to excess mercury is not a recipe for better brain chemistry – hence the term, mad as a hatter.
But…..sniffing mercury fumes for years, while making fancy hats, is not quite the same as having fish for dinner.
So do fish dinners create “madness” ?
Researchers from the University of Rochester sort answers to this fishy dilemma. To explore the topic, the research team headed for the Republic of Seychelles, where fish dinners happen pretty much every day.
Nightly fish dinners
The average mom-to-be eats 12 fish dinners a week – so island Moms and their developing babes, are getting exposed to quite a bit of mercury through their fish dinners.
How much ?
In the 1980s, the research team enrolled 1784 moms-to-be into their study, to answer this question. Each Mom provided the team with a hair sample, around the time of her delivery.
The hair sample was used to determine how much mercury was floating about in Mom during her pregnancy. The more mercury in the hair sample, the more mercury the developing fetus would have been exposed to.
The mean prenatal methylmercury exposure for these Moms was 8.4 parts per million.
These levels are significantly higher than the average Mom living in the West.
Looking for fishy behaviours
Ten years later, when the babes were all grown up, the team tracked the kids down to see what had happened.
Each child’s temperament was assessed using two rating scales.
- The Social Communication Questionaire was completed by the child’s care givers
- The Social Responsiveness Scale was completed by the child’s teachers
NOTE : Scores in these tests are not enough to confirm a diagnosis of autism, but they do provide clues that things are amiss, because they’re measuring a child’s language skills, social communication skills and the assessments, will pick up on the presence of repetitive behaviours.
Nothing fishy about fishy dinners
At the age of 10
The team took the test scores and plotted these against the mercury levels the kids had experienced, during their development in the womb.
Absolutely no correlation between autism-spectrum-like behaviours and prenatal exposure to mercury. Nothing. Nada.
Fishy dinners, containing mercury, were not creating fishy behaviours.
At the age of 20 something
The same group of kids, were tested again, using a battery of different neurodevelopmental tests, at the age of 22.
The tests used included
- Boston Naming Test,
- Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB),
- the Profile of Mood States,
- Stroop Word-Color Test,
- the Barkley Adult ADHD Rating Scale,
- the Test of Variables of Attention, and
- the Finger Tapping test.
These tests confirmed,
there was ABSOLUTELY no association with prenatal mercury exposure and performance.
NOTE : Ironically, in some of the measures of attention, executive function and delayed recall, the kids exposed to more mercury, performed better. GO FISH !
So the standard advice to cut fish from the menu during pregnancy…… is a bit fishy.
The mercury risk, while present on paper, does not exist, in big fish eaters, so it is highly unlikely it exists in small fish eaters i.e. someone eating fish 2-3 times a week.
So if you’re a pregnant Mom, looking to give your little one the best start possible, don’t be afraid to add fish to the menu.
The nutritional benefits of that fishy dinner, out way the risks of mercury.
Plus…. it is important to realize, there are other fish to fry, when it comes to mercury exposure.
Fish probably only contributes 7 % to blood mercury levels.
Supplementing with fish oil in the second half of pregnancy helps create a highly co-ordinated chatter box two year old. This is an advantage, I promise.
Bacteria are chemical wizards – in fact one of their superpowers is that, as a collective, they can eat ANYTHING. A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G includes mercury
The quality of a nation’s breast milk, impacts how smart the nation is. The more omega-3, the smarter the nation, the more omega-6, the dumber the nation.
If you are an expectant Mom or know someone that is – invite them to participate, so they can create Better Body Chemistry during their pregnancy and raise a HAPPY HEALTHY little one.