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.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said 12 cases of Zika had been detected across the Philippines this month, including a 22-year-old woman from the central island of Cebu who is 19 weeks' pregnant with her first child.
When Rufino Borrego was 13, he was diagnosed by a Lisbon hospital as having incurable muscular dystrophy, the Jornal de Noticias reported.
Facebook CEO, wife to begin $3 billion initiative by building new research center
In a joint statement, the Ministry of Health and the National Environment Agency confirmed 16 new cases, four of which were not linked to existing cluster areas.
A report by the The Climate Institute suggests that coffee could become extinct by 2080 if serious changes aren't made
The US and China - together responsible for 40% of the world's carbon emissions - have now both ratified the Paris global climate agreement.
Government says antibacterial soaps no better than plain soaps, could affect human health
Indonesia joins countries issuing travel advisory for Singapore, where number of viral infection cases have risen to 82
When dealing with ADHD, learning disorders and autism, how many of us focus on the connection between our gut flora, what we eat, and our mental state?
In an interview Hollywood actor Jean Claude Van Damme has stated that he favoured Arabic food and that the diet followed by the Prophet Muhammad was one that was best for the human body
El Nino has devastated Mozambique's Gorongosa park with political tensions threatening the park
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on skin for a few minutes to create suction, the therapy itself dates back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Earth has hit a record high with an overall globel temperature the highest ever on record
The National Institute of Health may fund research into mixed embryos to better understand human diseases and develop therapies to treat them.
Travel across multiple time zones disrupts circadian rhythms resulting in jet lag
After five years the radiation levels in the Pacific Ocean are close to normal levels after a nuclear meltdown in the city