WASHINGTON/June 26/PRNewswire-USNewswire -- A recent study shows that children of mothers who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy have increased cognitive skills compared to those of mothers who consumed fewer or no omega-3 fatty acids. The study, published this month in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, contributes to growing scientific evidence highlighting the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet throughout life. Fish, like canned tuna, remains one of the most readily available and affordable sources of this vital nutrient.

The study, led by Michelle Judge and Dr. Ofer Harel, University of Connecticut, and Dr. Carol Lammi-Keefe, Louisiana State University, found that children of mothers who consumed additional omega-3s at their 24th week of pregnancy showed greater problem-solving skills at the age of nine months than children of mothers who did not consume additional omega-3 fatty acids.

Since last fall, prestigious professional journals including The Lancet and the Journal of the American Medical Association have published carefully scrutinized, peer-reviewed research showing that seafood, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, helps fetal brain development, prevents certain types of cancers and heart disease, and helps deter depression, Alzheimer's disease and macular degeneration. These studies underscore advice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Heart Association, and numerous other reputable public health institutions: Americans should eat seafood at least twice per week for optimal health.

A sampling of recent scientific studies reinforcing the many nutritional benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include:
-- "Maternal Seafood Consumption in Pregnancy and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Childhood," Joseph R. Hibbeln, et al., The Lancet, February 2007 -- Based on the outcomes from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a British study that assessed factors such as diet and lifestyle that impact health and growth during pregnancy, the authors found that consuming more than 340g per week (more than four 3-ounce servings) of seafood during pregnancy provided beneficial effects on child development. These results show that the benefits of nutrients found in seafood outweigh exposure to trace amounts of methylmercury.

-- "Seafood Choices: Balancing Risks and Benefits," Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, October 2006 -- A comprehensive investigation weighing the benefits and risks of seafood consumption, the IOM report was established to assist federal agencies in guiding consumers on making decisions about the types and quantity of fish they incorporate into their diets. The report outlines health benefits of seafood consumption, as well as potential risk factors associated with intake. Conclusions of the report recommend that adults consume seafood as part of a healthy diet and follow the U.S. guidelines for consumption. In addition, the report notes that pregnant women and women who may become pregnant are encouraged to include seafood in their diets in accordance with the already established federal advisory.

-- "Fish Intake, Contaminants, and Human Health," Dariush Mozaffarian, Eric Rimm, et al., Journal of the American Medical Association, October 2006 -- In this critical research analysis, the authors investigated the risks and benefits of consuming fish based on an in-depth evaluation of current literature. The authors concluded that for an adult population, the varied health benefits of consuming fish one to two times per week greatly outweigh risks from exposure to contaminants such as methylmercury. In addition, the authors indicated that the benefit of consuming certain species of fish -- notably those lower in methylmercury -- for women of childbearing age also outweighs the risk.

From the July 2, 2007, Prepared Foods e-Flash