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Monday 18th June 2018

Fish linked to premature labour

12th October 2006

09082006_childbirth1.jpgA controversial new study suggests that women who give birth prematurely have eaten too much oily fish.

The research has revealed that some women who give birth prematurely are three times more likely to have double the average levels of mercury in their hair samples. It has widely been known that pregnant women should limit their intake of tuna, sword fish, shark and marlin because these fish are particularly high in mercury and other pollutants.  However, the new study indicates that oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines can also put pregnancies at risk.  Scientists recommend that mothers-to-be take fish oil in supplement form only until more is known about the dangers.

The researchers found that among a group of more than 1,000 pregnant women, eating more fish (especially canned fish) was associated with high mercury levels. Only 44 of the women gave birth prematurely, however, and the researchers said more work was needed to corroborate their findings. They also pointed out that the women were asked to recall how much fish they had eaten, which might be inaccurate. It is also possible that the women could have been exposed to mercury from other sources, they said.

But UK health experts have reacted to the findings with a warning that it is important for pregnant women to eat enough fish to keep healthy and to consult their GPs before taking supplements of any kind.  The Food Standards Agency recommends that pregnant and lactating women eat fish twice a week.  Oily fish are high in beneficial fats such as omega 3 and other studies show eating enough fish can boost the birth weight and brain power of babies and help prevent premature labour in pregnant women.



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