Background: Few studies have examined the overall effect of maternal fish intake during pregnancy on child development or examined whether the developmental benefits of maternal fish intake are greater in infants breastfed for a shorter duration.
Objective: We aimed to study associations of maternal prenatal fish intake and breastfeeding duration with child developmental milestones.
Design: We studied 25 446 children born to mothers participating in the Danish National Birth Cohort, a prospective population-based cohort study including pregnant women enrolled between 1997 and 2002. Mothers reported child development by a standardized interview, which we used to generate developmental scores at ages 6 and 18 mo. We used multivariate cumulative ordinal logistic regression to evaluate the odds of higher developmental scores associated with maternal fish intake and breastfeeding, after adjustment for child age, sex, and growth; maternal size and pregnancy characteristics; and parental education and social status.
Results: Higher maternal fish intake and greater duration of breastfeeding were associated with higher child developmental scores at 18 mo [odds ratio: 1.29 (95% CI: 1.20, 1.38) for the highest versus the lowest quintile of fish intake, and 1.28 (1.18, 1.38) for breastfeeding for > or =10 mo compared with breastfeeding for < or =1 mo]. Associations were similar for development at 6 mo. Associations of fish intake with child development did not differ by breastfeeding duration.
Conclusions: Maternal fish intake during pregnancy and the duration of breastfeeding are independently associated with better early child development. Future research and consumption guidelines, incorporating nutritional benefits as well as contaminant risks, should consider the overall effect of prenatal fish consumption on child development.