England: autism not linked to antenatal fish consumption

07 September 2018

Eating fish during pregnancy does not increase the likelihood of a child having autism, scientists have found.

Almost 4500 women took part in the Children of the 90s study, hosted by the University of Bristol, to test the assumption that eating fish, which contain mercury, is a major cause of autism.

Scientists analysed blood samples and reported fish consumption, compiled scores for the major autistic traits and compared data with pregnancies resulting in children diagnosed with autism. They found no links between levels of mercury in the mothers and autistic traits in their children.

But the research, published in Molecular Autism, did find poor social cognition, especially in girls, if mothers ate no fish at all.

Lead author Professor Jean Golding said: ‘Our findings further endorse the safety of eating fish during pregnancy.’

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