Effects of docosahexaenoic acid and methylmercury on child's brain development due to consumption of fish by Finnish mother during pregnancy: a probabilistic modeling approach.

Research paper by O O Leino, A K AK Karjalainen, J T JT Tuomisto

Indexed on: 05 Jul '11Published on: 05 Jul '11Published in: Food and Chemical Toxicology


Fish contains both beneficial substances e.g. docosahexaenoic acids but also harmful compounds e.g. methylmercury. Importantly, the health effects caused by these two substances can be evaluated in one common end point, intelligence quotient (IQ), providing a more transparent analysis. We estimated health effects of maternal fish consumption on child's central nervous system by creating a model with three alternative maternal fish consumption scenarios (lean fish, fatty fish, and current fish consumption). Additionally, we analyzed impacts of both regular fish consumption and extreme fish consumption habits. At the individual level, the simulated net effects were small, encompassing a range of one IQ point in all scenarios. Fatty fish consumption, however, clearly generated a beneficial net IQ effect, and lean fish consumption evoked an adverse net IQ effect. In view of the current fish consumption pattern of Finnish mothers the benefits and risks seem to more or less compensate each other. This study clearly shows the significance of which fish species are consumed during pregnancy and lactation, and the results can be generalized to apply to typical western population fish consumption habits.