Premature births, or births before 37 weeks of pregnancy,
increase a child's risk for health problems: 60% of serious
complications or deaths in newborns are related to preterm
births. Greater-than-normal birth weights and longer gestation
periods are common in Denmark's remote Faroe Islands, where
people eat plenty of fish. A study appearing in a recent issue
of the British Medical Journal evaluated a possible
link between seafood intake and longer gestation periods.
9,000 pregnant women in Denmark completed seafood-intake questionnaires
at the 16th and 30th weeks of pregnancy. Seafood consumption
included fish and shellfish, and was divided into four intake
categories: never, 0-1 times monthly, 1-3 times monthly, or
once or more per week.
Women who consumed no fish were three-and-a-half times more
likely to have preterm delivery than women consuming fish
at least weekly. Incidence of preterm delivery fell progressively
from 7% in women eating no fish to 2% in women eating fish
at least weekly.
Some of the potential dangers "preemies" face include underdeveloped
lungs, bleeding in the brain, kidney problems, and vision
and hearing impairment. You might not like fish, but while
you're pregnant, you may want to make the sacrifice for your
baby. If you refuse to eat seafood, take fish oil supplements,
which also contain the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and
may also effectively ward off health problems. Avoid fish
that might contain high mercury levels -- larger fish such
as shark, mackerel, and swordfish -- which can potentially
harm growing infants.
Olsen SF, Secher NJ. Low consumption of seafood in early
pregnancy as a risk factor for preterm delivery: Prospective
cohort study. British Medical Journal 2002:324, pp.
For more information about staying healthy while pregnant,
go to http://www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/women/pregnancy/index.html.