Your diet when pregnant influences your baby's development, so you need to be extra careful about what you eat. According to U.S. Food and Drug's Administration's Acting Chief Scientist Stephen Ostroff, pregnant women should consume 8 to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish every week to maximize the developmental benefits that the omega-3 fatty acids can offer. If you have always loved seafood, don't skimp out on seafood restaurants.  You'll be happy to know that omega-3 fatty acids offer these 3 surprising benefits.

Giving Infants an Edge in Early Cognitive Development

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for developing brains and accumulate in the brain and nervous system. Pregnant women that have consumed plenty of foods containing omega-3 fatty acids gave their baby an edge in early cognitive development. In a study of the diets of 12,000 pregnant women, children of mothers that consumed the least amount of omega-3 fatty acids were 48% more likely to score in the lowest quartile on IQ tests.

In addition, infants that were born to mothers with higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids at delivery exhibited advanced levels of attention spans well into their second year of life. This gave them a learning edge, as they were able to absorb more information in comparison to babies born to mothers with low blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

It is important that you avoid seafood with high-mercury levels, as high-mercury levels have the opposite effect on cognitive development. In short, avoid shark, king mackerel, swordfish and other fishes that are higher up the food chain when ordering at seafood restaurants.

Improving the Infant's Developing Gut to Reduce Allergies

Astonishingly, maternal omega-3 intake may also influence the fetus' gut development. Studies have shown that mothers that consumed a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids were likely to give birth to infants with guts that were more permeable. A permeable gut allows for bacteria and other substances to pass from the mother to the fetus more easily, which would then result in a higher production of antibodies in the fetus.

The higher production of antibodies reduces childhood allergies in infants up to 2 years of age. This means that these infants tend to have stronger immune responses, are less likely to become immune compromised and will have a better chance of adapting and becoming immune to more allergens in the future.

Reducing Risk for Pre-term Birth

Pre-term birth can result in many short-term and long-term complications in the infant. Generally speaking, there is a higher risk associated with pre-term births, and pre-term births may cause the infant to develop problems with their breathing, heart, cognitive ability, temperature control ability, gastrointestinal system, circulatory system, metabolism and immune system.

Pregnant women that consumed 600 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids every day throughout their entire pregnancy were less likely to give birth before 34 weeks of gestation and less likely to give birth to babies with a low birth weight. To give you a better idea of portion sizes, 16 grams of caviar contains 1,086 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and ½ a fillet of cooked Atlantic salmon, or 154 grams, contains 3,982 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. You don't need to eat a lot of seafood to get the amount of omega-3 fatty acids that your baby needs.


In short, if you're pregnant, don't forget seafood. There are plenty of seafood restaurants, such as Gabriel's Restaurant Bar & Grill, that cook a variety of delicious dishes to keep your palette entertained. In addition, a lot of seafood, such as salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines and Atlantic mackerel, contains low-mercury levels. Although seafood is extremely healthy for both you and your baby, you should avoid eating raw seafood, as it does contain bacteria and other pathogenic microbes.