Eating Fish during Pregnancy Increases Child Obesity Risk

A new research, conducted at the University of Crete in Greece has revealed that babies are at a higher risk of becoming obese if their mothers had consumed fish three or more times in a week. A meta-analysis of 15 studies was carried out by the researchers, involving a total of 26,184 pregnant women and their children from 11 countries across the United States and Europe. The data on the babies born from 1996 to 2011 was tracked by the researchers.

Growth trends and weight patterns of the children was examined till the age of 6 years. Questions were asked from pregnant women about their food consumption and women’s answers ranged from less than half a serving of fish up to seven servings of fish during a week. Babies of the women with the maximum amount of fish intake had 14% higher risk of being overweight or obese by the age of four years, while the risk became 22% higher by the age of six years, as compared to those women who consumed least amount of fish.

In addition, heavy fish eating mothers had babies who were at 22% higher probability of rapid growth during the first two years as compared to babies whose mothers had least fish. Two reasons have been provided by the researchers. One is that the fetal cells might get predisposed to differentiate into fat cells. The second reasoning is that fetal hormones associated with metabolism get disturbed due to the pollutants present in fish, thereby prompting increased storage of fats.

The present guidelines of the FDA and EPA suggest maximum consumption of two-three servings of fish in a week. The researchers involved in the study revealed that further studies must be conducted to understand the impact of proteins present in fish on the hormone growth of the baby. Additional research is being suggested since the data provided by mothers could be misleading.