Last Update 13:56
Thursday, 14 November 2019

Mother's fish, mercury intake tied to kids' ADHD risk: study

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

Reuters, Tuesday 9 Oct 2012
Share/Bookmark
Views: 2998
Share/Bookmark
Views: 2998

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." 

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.