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The Healthiest Babies' Mothers Eat Fish

A new Danish study suggests that cold-water fish, some of the World's Healthiest Foods, are an especially important part of a pregnant woman's diet.

Pregnant women who never ate fish were more than three times as likely to deliver prematurely or give birth to an underweight baby when compared to women who ate fish at least once a week, this just published study found.

Following up on an earlier study of women in the Faroe Islands, where fish makes up a large part of the diet and the incidence of premature birth and low birth-weight babies is unusually low, this additional study took another look at the link between of fish consumption and healthy babies.

The new study, conducted at the Skejby University Hospital in Aarhus, Denmark, involved 8,729 pregnant women. These mothers-to-be were surveyed twice during prenatal care about their diet, and the information used to evaluate the relationship between their consumption of seafood during pregnancy and their risk for a preterm delivery and/or low birth weight baby.

The findings were dramatic: those who ate no fish were 3.6 times as likely to deliver prematurely as those in the group that ate at least one main course of fish each week. The occurrence of preterm delivery differed significantly across four groups of seafood intake, falling progressively from 7.1% in the group never consuming fish to 1.9% in the group consuming fish as a hot meal and an open sandwich with fish at least once a week. Researchers believe that the omega-3 fats, which are found found in highest amounts in cold-water fish, confer protection against preterm delivery and low birth weight and suggest that pregnant women be encouraged to eat fish.

For suggestions as to how to enjoy fish, truly some of the World's Healthiest Foods, more often, click on the Recipe Assistant, select any of fish found on the healthy foods list, and click on the Submit button. A list containing links to all the World's Healthiest Foods' recipes containing the fish chosen will appear immediately below.

Reference: Olsen SF, Secher NJ. Low consumption of seafood in early pregnancy as a risk factor for preterm delivery: prospective cohort study. British Medical Journal 2002 Feb 23;324(7335):447