Moms-to-be should visit the fishmonger more often. In a study published in the journal Pediatric Research, scientists in Finland collected nutrition information from 56 pregnant women using food diaries; the scientists then measured blood levels of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (aka omega-3 fats) in both mothers and babies when the newborns were 1 month old. Using a method to assess visual functioning, the study revealed that babies whose mothers ate fish three or more times a week during the last trimester of their pregnancy fared better on visual tests than those whose mothers ate no fish or only up to two portions per week. Blood omega-3 levels in both moms and babies were also linked to better visual performance.
Omega fatty acids help to properly form nerve cells in the retina, so they are essential for eye development in children. Other nutrients—such as vitamin D in fish—may also play a role. People can soak up more omega-3s, while keeping contaminant levels lower, by reeling in safer species, such as wild salmon, sardines, farmed rainbow trout, mussels and Atlantic mackerel.