Friday, October 22, 2010

Nothing's fishy here--after all

Well, if you thought the story was fishy you were right....and wrong!  Many women have been fishing for their diet during pregnancy because they were told -- or they listened to the hype -- that one ingredient in the wrigglers (DHA) will make their babies more intelligent when the hatch out into the world.  Alas!  It seems to be untrue.

The latest Professor Sez Bulletin, this time from the unchallengeable source of all that's important (the NY Times) is that all this was just an old fishmonger's tale.  Every expectant mom's little Einstein-in-waiting isn't. It'll just be a human, faulty as all get-out, but loveable and precious just the same.
...a large study published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that the DHA supplements taken by pregnant women show no clear cognitive benefit to their babies. The study also found no evidence that DHA can reduce postpartum depression, except perhaps for women already at high risk for it.
Some previous studies have suggested that DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil, can aid in a baby’s brain development if taken during pregnancy. But many of those studies were small or observed women already taking fish oil, who might be more health-conscious. The new study, with more than 2,000 participants, was a clinical trial in which women received either fish oil with DHA or a placebo (vegetable oil).

Is this too bad?  Only if you think that science, unlike God, works miracles upon request.

Of course, we have to add that our assessment here assumes that this latest Professor Sez Bulletin is correct.  But as you know, there's no reason to believe it, because the definitiveness of science stories is, too often, another old fishmonger's tale.

Anyway, there are lots of apparently actual good reasons to eat fish, until we fish out the seas, so we can place our bets however we want, as long as we keep our expectations within reality. 


Jennifer said...

I'm still wondering about the advantages of eating fish these days, because of all the heavy metals and toxins they are finding in big fish biopsies. I tend to avoid ocean fish most of the time. When my daughter was pregnant they even told her to be careful not to eat tuna more than a couple times a month due to toxins in the fish. What to do? What to eat? Follow the newest recommendations for what is safe, or just eat whatever I want? Especially since the newest recommendations are likely to change next year with the new latest studies. Maybe my mother-in-law was right with her 'don't confuse me with facts, I already have my opinion' attitude. Makes more sense everyday!

Ken Weiss said...

Life is a balance, and much of the time we don't know what is actually in each of the scales.