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'Fishes work wonder for pregnant women'

Pregnant women who eat more fish tend to have brighter and sociable kids, says researcher.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 22:05 IST

Pregnant women who eat more fish, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, tend to have brighter, more sociable children, according to a new researcher.

The amount of omega-3 helps to determine the child's intelligence, fine motor skills - the ability to manipulate small objects and hand and eye co-ordination - and the propensity to anti-social behaviour, says a study by Dr Joseph Hibbeln, of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

According to the Telegraph, the findings show that the children of women who consumed the smallest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids during their pregnancies had a verbal IQ six points lower than average.

This is striking because pregnant women have been advised to limit their consumption of oily fish and seafood in order to avoid exposing their foetuses to trace amounts of dioxins and brain-damaging methyl mercury.

Dr Hibbeln, whose research is reported in the Economist, says that his work shows that the benefits of eating such foods vastly outweigh the risks. The findings show that the children of women who consumed the smallest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids during their pregnancies had a verbal IQ six points lower than average.

The researchers found that at 3= years of age, those children with the best measures of motor performance had mothers with the highest intake of omega-3s. A low intake during pregnancy led to higher levels of pathological social interactions such as an inability to make friends as a child grew up, which are also linked to antisocial behaviour in later life.