Women could improve the sight of their unborn child by eating oily fish 3 times a week during pregnancy. A finding that corroborates previous research on the importance of the food choices of the future mother in the development of her child.
This trial, conducted by researchers from the University of Turku and the University Hospital of Turku in Finland, has just been published in the journal Pediatric Research by Springer Nature. According to them, the mother’s diet during pregnancy and lactation is very important. This is indeed the primary means by which valuable long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are made available to the fetus and infant brain, during the period of maximum brain growth.
A pilot study on vision
In this study, Laitinen and his colleagues analyzed the results of 56 mothers and their children, taken from a larger study. Mothers were required to keep a regular food diary during their pregnancy. Fluctuations in their weight before and during pregnancy were taken into account, among other markers of health.
The team recorded the levels of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids from food sources and their concentration in the mother’s serum, as well as from their children before the age of 1 month. Their children were then tested around the age of 2, using visual evoked potentials (PVEP or Pattern visual evoked potential). This sensitive, accurate and non-invasive method is used to detect sight functioning and maturational changes occurring in a young child’s visual system.
3 servings of fish
Subsequent analyzes of vision test results revealed that infants whose mothers ate fish 3 or more times a week during the last trimester of pregnancy performed better than those whose mothers did not eat fish. or only 2 servings per week.
These observations were confirmed when serum phospholipid fatty acid status was assessed. For the authors, this can be attributed to the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids present in fish, but also to other nutrients such as vitamin D and vitamin E, which are important for the neurological development of visual function. Laitinen believes that these findings should be incorporated into dietary advice provided to pregnant women.
Pregnant women can safely eat fatty fish, but limit:
- Barbel, bream, carp and catfish, which concentrate PCBs.
- Sharks, lampreys, swordfish, marlin (similar to swordfish) and sikis (a variety of shark), which are the most contaminated with methylmercury.
Jonna Normia: Perinatal nutrition impacts on the functional development of the visual tract in infants. Pediatric Research volume85, pages 72–78.