The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Oily fish intake during pregnancy: association with lower hyperactivity but not with higher full-scale IQ in offspring

Gale, Catharine R., Robinson, Sian M., Godfrey, Keith M., Law, Catherine M., Schlotz, Wolff and O'Callaghan, F.J. (2008) Oily fish intake during pregnancy: association with lower hyperactivity but not with higher full-scale IQ in offspring Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, (10), pp. 1061-1068.

Record type: Article


Background: Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are thought to be important for fetal neurodevelopment. Animal studies suggest that a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids may lead to behavioural or cognitive deficits. As oily fish is a major dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, it is possible that low intake of fish during pregnancy may have adverse effects on the developing fetal brain.

Methods: We used the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence to assess behavioural problems and intelligence in 217 nine-year-old children. The mothers of these children had participated in a study of nutrition during pregnancy during which fish intake was assessed in early and late gestation.

Results: Children whose mothers had eaten oily fish in early pregnancy had a reduced risk of hyperactivity compared to those whose mothers did not eat oily fish: OR .34, 95% CI .15 to .78, after adjustment for potential confounding factors. Children whose mothers had eaten fish (whether oily or non-oily) in late pregnancy had a verbal IQ that was 7.55 points higher (95% CI .75 to 14.4) than those whose mothers did not eat fish. There were, however, no significant associations between fish intake in pregnancy and other behavioural problems or full-scale and performance intelligence, after adjustment for potential confounding factors.

Conclusions: Although maternal fish intake in pregnancy was associated with hyperactivity scores and verbal IQ in children, in general, how much fish women ate during pregnancy appeared to have little long-term relation with neurodevelopmental outcomes in their child.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: October 2008
Keywords: intelligence, behaviour problems, diet, pregnancy, fish intake, hyperactivity, omega-3 fatty acids, nutrition, pre-natal


Local EPrints ID: 52582
ISSN: 0021-9630
PURE UUID: 29215e0d-b3a7-40bf-a155-61d84d3009cc
ORCID for Sian M. Robinson: ORCID iD
ORCID for Keith M. Godfrey: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 10 Jul 2008
Last modified: 27 Aug 2017 01:23

Export record


Author: Catherine M. Law
Author: Wolff Schlotz
Author: F.J. O'Callaghan

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.