Fish in pregnancy may help stave off kids’ ADHD

WOMEN who eat both lean and fatty fish during early pregnancy are more likely to have kids with a good attention span when they hit school age.

A team of scientists put their focus on the impact of a seafood-rich diet on attention capabilities due to the rise in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in school-age children. The study from Spain has been published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Brain development takes place mainly during pregnancy, through complex biological processes such as neuron formation, synaptogenesis and myelination.

Essential nutrients such as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play a fundamental role in these processes.

"Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are the main omega-3 PUFAs involved in neurological development and seafood is the main source of both of them," study author Jordi Júlvez, researcher in the Childhood & Environment program at ISGlobal said.

Children whose mothers ate a diet rich in various types of seafood scored very well on the attention tests at eight years old, as did children of women with a diet rich only in fatty fish. Scores were lower in children whose mothers relied on canned tuna or shellfish for their seafood intake.

Queensland Health says fish is an important part of a pregnant woman's diet as it is an excellent source of protein and is low in saturated fat. It also has high amounts of omega 3 and is a good source of iodine. But some fish contain high levels of mercury. If consuming shark, marlin or swordfish limit the serve to 100g cooked per fortnight and no other fish that fortnight. If consuming deep sea perch or catfish, have one 100g serve per week and no other fish that week.

Jane Gollan from Hendra is 26 weeks pregnant and is conscious of eating a healthy diet.

"I take fish oil supplements to boost brain development but to be honest have steered clear of eating fish due to the mercury warnings for pregnant women but with this research I may rethink my fish intake for the future," she said.


Salmon Teriyaki over Steamen Rice.
Salmon Teriyaki over Steamen Rice.



  • To reduce mercury exposure limit shark, swordfish, cat fish
  • Avoid raw fish and eat shellfish with caution
  • Pay attention to local waters advisories
  • Cook properly with internal temp of 145 F (63C)
  • Make sure cooked fish is opaque and flakes