World Bulletin / News Desk
Children's risk of developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) later in life may be tied to how much fish their mothers ate while pregnant, according to a U.S. study.
Researchers writing in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that eating at least two servings of fish per week was linked to about a 60 percent lower risk of kids developing certain ADHD-like symptoms.
But elevated mercury levels, which can also come from eating more fish - depending on the fish - were tied to a higher risk of developing the symptoms, such as hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattentiveness.
Though the study did not prove cause and effect, and did not use a formal diagnosis of ADHD, it may offer insights into a condition that's estimated to have an impact on one in 10 children in the United States, researchers say.
"The really important message is to eat fish," said Sharon Sagiv, the study's lead author from the Boston University School of Public Health.
"Just stay away from mercury-containing fish, because these protective effects are pretty important."
Sagiv said it's best to stay away from "big fishes," such as tuna and swordfish, which typically contain the most mercury. Instead, stick to fishes such as haddock and salmon.
Past studies looking at the link between mercury and ADHD have produced conflicting results.
For the new study, the researchers followed 788 children who were born near New Bedford, Massachusetts, between 1993 and 1998. They used hair samples taken from the mothers right after delivery to test their mercury levels, and food diaries to see how much fish they ate.
Then, once the children were about 8 years old, the researchers asked their teachers to evaluate the kids' behaviors to see how many exhibited ADHD-like symptoms.
After taking all of the information into account, the researchers found 1 microgram of mercury per gram of a mother's hair - about eight times the average levels found in similar women's hair in another analysis - was tied to about a 60 percent increase in the risk of their child exhibiting ADHD-like behaviors.
But there was no link below 1 microgram of mercury per gram of a mother's hair.
Sagiv added that the negative effects from lower levels of mercury may be canceled out by the benefits from eating fish. The children appeared to be 60 percent less likely to exhibit impulsive or hyperactive behaviors if their mothers ate two or more servings of fish per week.
That finding conflicts with the U.S. government's recommendation that says pregnant women should eat no more than two six-ounce servings of fish per week to limit their exposure to mercury.
"I think it does call into question those guidelines, but this is only one study and the results should be confirmed," Sagiv told Reuters health.
In an editorial that appeared with the study, Bruce Lanphear at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, echoed Sagiv's advice on avoiding "big fishes."
In the long term, we have to really find ways to fight contamination levels in fish so years from now we don't have to give this advice," he added.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has taken 1,552 lives out of 3,069 known cases in four countries and "continues to accelerate", WHO said
Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah told AA the names would be announced later.
The WHO urged a range of "regulatory options", including prohibiting e-cigarette makers from making health claims
The doctor died after receiving the experimental drug ZMapp.
Japan has received inquiries from some countries on the influenza drug favipiravir, or T-705 as it is known in the developmental code.
Some 54 people have died in or near the capital Accra, and around 300 people are now being infected daily with the highly contagious disease, putting pressure on local health facilities, said Linda Van-Otoo, GHS director for Greater Accra.
A Philippine seaman is being monitored in Togo for signs of the disease but authorities say the country is still Ebola-free, despite dozens of workers returning from Liberia.
A 36-year-old man from Senegal is being tested in Barcelona.
MSF (Doctors Without Borders) has deployed 1,000 of its own staff in the stricken region, running centres that currently have 300 beds
On Wednesday, the residents of the two communities woke up just after the president ordered the quarantine only to find their community barricaded with soldiers and police officers preventing people from leaving or entering the two areas.
They were given ZMapp, a drug used on a handful of patients in the West African outbreak and produced by U.S.-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical.
A local priest who asked not to be named said that the illness had affected several villages and estimated that the death toll was over 100 people.
The calculation highlights the dilemma facing officials considering how to distribute the tiny quantities of unproven drugs that are likely to be available in the near term
"We are hopeful and grateful to God and to the medical team that they are showing signs of improvement," Liberia's Information Minister Lewis Brown told a press conference on Tuesday.
The decision came as the Ivorian national football team is due to face Sierra Leone, one of the countries that had been hard hit by the Ebola outbreak, next month in Abidjan as part of the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 qualifiers.
Infant products are particularly vulnerable to food safety scares in China after powdered milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine led to the deaths of at least six infants in 2008