The Importance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in PregnancyHow important are omega-3 fatty acids in a pregnant woman’s diet?

Pregnant women are advised to eat about 12 ounces of fish a week, including one of oily fish. Raw fish or seafood, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark are best avoided due to risk of food poisoning and heavy metal toxicity.

Eating fish is good for general health, but particular importance is placed on the omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish for maternal and fetal health. They are believed to bring a range of benefits such as helping the baby’s visual and nervous systems to develop.

Omega-3 fats are a particular class of “healthy” fats, found in certain nuts and seeds (as alpha-linolenic acid) and in oily fish such as salmon, trout and sardines (as eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA).

A 2007 study of 11,875 pregnant women, published in the medical journal Lancet, showed that eating more than 340 grams (12 ounces) of seafood a week — the equivalent of about two and a half portions — is beneficial to the child’s neurodevelopment. It also suggested that eating less than this amount may bring an increased risk of lower verbal intelligence and social development.

The researchers write, “We recorded beneficial effects on child development with maternal seafood intakes of more than 340 g per week. These results show that risks