Children who are born to women who eat more fish when pregnant are likely to be more sociable and brighter when compared to other children. This is because the omega-3 fatty acids are contained in fish in large quantities, according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
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 behavior. 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 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 researchers found that at 3½ 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 behavior in later life.