Eating a seafood-rich diet during the early stages of pregnancy could help improve a child’s attention span, a study has suggested.
Researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health analysed the diets of 1,600 mothers during their pregnancies, whose children’s attention skills were then tested at the age of eight.
They found children whose mothers had eaten a variety of fish and seafood during their first trimester – including fatty fish, lean fish, canned tuna and shellfish – scored well in the tests.
High scores were also attained by children of women with a seafood diet rich only in fatty fish but those whose mothers only consumed canned tuna or shellfish scored lower.
The team suggested the test results could be linked to seafood containing nutrients essential for brain development – which takes place early in pregnancy – such as polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Lead author Jordi Júlvez said, “The consumption of seafood during the first trimester of pregnancy had a greater effect on children’s attention capacity than the consumption of seafood later in pregnancy or at five years of age, by which time some neurodevelopment processes have already been completed,” .
However, the study acknowledged previous research has reported a link between the consumption of fish during pregnancy and childhood obesity and increased blood pressure.
It stated experts believe more research is needed to determine exactly which species of fish and what quantities may be beneficial to foetal development.