Maternal Consumption of Seafood in Pregnancy and Child Neuropsychological Development

Maternal Consumption of Seafood in Pregnancy and Child Neuropsychological Development: A Longitudinal Study Based on a Population With High Consumption Levels

  1. Jordi Julvez*,
  2. Michelle Méndez,
  3. Silvia Fernandez-Barres,
  4. Dora Romaguera,
  5. Jesus Vioque,
  6. Sabrina Llop,
  7. Jesus Ibarluzea,
  8. Monica Guxens,
  9. Claudia Avella-Garcia,
  10. Adonina Tardón,
  11. Isolina Riaño,
  12. Ainara Andiarena,
  13. Oliver Robinson,
  14. Victoria Arija,
  15. Mikel Esnaola,
  16. Ferran Ballester and
  17. Jordi Sunyer
  1. *Correspondence to Dr. Jordi Julvez, ISGlobal, Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona Biomedical Research Park, C. Doctor Aiguader 8, 08003 Barcelona, Spain (e-mail:
  1. Abbreviations: DDE, 2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1-dichloroethylene; DHA, docosahexanoic acid; FFQ, food frequency questionnaire; LC-PUFAs, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; MSCA, McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities.

  • Received March 13, 2015.
  • Accepted July 14, 2015.


Seafood consumption during pregnancy is thought to be beneficial for child neuropsychological development, but to our knowledge no large cohort studies with high fatty fish consumption have analyzed the association by seafood subtype. We evaluated 1,892 and 1,589 mother-child pairs at the ages of 14 months and 5 years, respectively, in a population-based Spanish birth cohort established during 2004–2008. Bayley and McCarthy scales and the Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test were used to assess neuropsychological development. Results from multivariate linear regression models were adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and further adjusted for umbilical cord blood mercury or long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid concentrations. Overall, consumption of seafood above the recommended limit of 340 g/week was associated with 10-g/week increments in neuropsychological scores. By subtype, in addition to lean fish, consumption of large fatty fish showed a positive association; offspring of persons within the highest quantile (>238 g/week) had an adjusted increase of 2.29 points in McCarthy general cognitive score (95% confidence interval: 0.42, 4.16). Similar findings were observed for the Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test. Beta coefficients diminished 15%–30% after adjustment for mercury or long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid concentrations. Consumption of large fatty fish during pregnancy presents moderate child neuropsychological benefits, including improvements in cognitive functioning and some protection from autism-spectrum traits.


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