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Maternal fish consumption exposes the fetus to beneficial nutrients and potentially adverse neurotoxicants. The current study investigated associations between maternal fish consumption and child neurodevelopmental outcomes. Maternal fish consumption was assessed in the Seychelles Child Development Study Nutrition Cohort 1 (n 229) using 4-day food diaries. Neurodevelopment was evaluated at 9 and 30 months, and 5 and 9 years with test batteries assessing twenty-six endpoints and covering multiple neurodevelopmental domains. Analyses used multiple linear regression with adjustment for covariates known to influence child neurodevelopment. This cohort consumed an average of 8 fish meals/week and the total fish intake during pregnancy was 106·8 (sd 61·9) g/d. Among the twenty-six endpoints evaluated in the primary analysis there was one beneficial association. Children whose mothers consumed larger quantities of fish performed marginally better on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (a test of nonverbal intelligence) at age 5 years (β 0·003, 95 % CI (0, 0·005)). A secondary analysis dividing fish consumption into tertiles found no significant associations when comparing the highest and lowest consumption groups. In this cohort, where fish consumption is substantially higher than current global recommendations, maternal fish consumption during pregnancy was not beneficially or adversely associated with children’s neurodevelopmental outcomes.
Maternal thyroid hormones facilitate optimal foetal neurodevelopment; however, the exact role of the thyroid hormones on specific cognitive outcomes is unknown. The present study aimed to investigate associations between maternal thyroid function and neurodevelopmental outcomes in the Seychelles Child Development Study (SCDS) Nutrition 2 cohort (n 1328). Maternal free thyroid hormones (fT3, fT4 and fTSH) were assessed at 28 weeks’ gestation with a range of child cognitive outcomes analysed at 20 months. Dietary iodine intake was analysed for a subset of women through a Food Frequency Questionnaire. Linear regression analysis was used to test associations between serum concentrations of maternal thyroid hormones and child neurodevelopment outcomes. Thyroid hormones were analysed as continuous data and categorised as quintiles. 95% of mothers had optimal thyroid function based on fTSH concentrations. Overall, the present study shows that maternal thyroid function is not associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes in this high fish-eating population. However, a positive association, using quintiles for fT3, was reported for the Mental Developmental Index, between Q3 v. Q4 (β 0⋅073; P 0⋅043) and for Q3 v. Q5 (β value 0⋅086; P 0⋅018). To conclude, mothers in our cohort, who largely have optimal thyroid function and iodine intakes, appear able to regulate thyroid function throughout pregnancy to meet neurodevelopmental needs. However, it is possible that minor imbalances of fT3, as indicated from our secondary analysis, may impact offspring neurodevelopment. Further investigation of the relationship between maternal thyroid function and infant neurodevelopment is warranted, particularly in populations with different dietary patterns and thereby iodine intakes.
Optimal maternal long-chain PUFA (LCPUFA) status is essential for the developing fetus. The fatty acid desaturase (FADS) genes are involved in the endogenous synthesis of LCPUFA. The minor allele of various FADS SNP have been associated with increased maternal concentrations of the precursors linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA), and lower concentrations of arachidonic acid (AA) and DHA. There is limited research on the influence of FADS genotype on cord PUFA status. The current study investigated the influence of maternal and child genetic variation in FADS genotype on cord blood PUFA status in a high fish-eating cohort. Cord blood samples (n 1088) collected from the Seychelles Child Development Study (SCDS) Nutrition Cohort 2 (NC2) were analysed for total serum PUFA. Of those with cord PUFA data available, maternal (n 1062) and child (n 916), FADS1 (rs174537 and rs174561), FADS2 (rs174575), and FADS1-FADS2 (rs3834458) were determined. Regression analysis determined that maternal minor allele homozygosity was associated with lower cord blood concentrations of DHA and the sum of EPA + DHA. Lower cord blood AA concentrations were observed in children who were minor allele homozygous for rs3834458 (β = 0·075; P = 0·037). Children who were minor allele carriers for rs174537, rs174561, rs174575 and rs3834458 had a lower cord blood AA:LA ratio (P < 0·05 for all). Both maternal and child FADS genotype were associated with cord LCPUFA concentrations, and therefore, the influence of FADS genotype was observed despite the high intake of preformed dietary LCPUFA from fish in this population.
The association of MeHg exposure through fish consumption on human autoimmunity remains unclear. Fish also contain n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) that are known to regulate inflammation and mitigate autoimmune disease symptoms. We studied the association of low-level exposure to methylmercury (MeHg) through fish consumption in the SCDS. We examined this association at age 19 years in the SCDS Main Cohort (n = 497). We measured MeHg exposure at 3 time points [prenatal, weighted average (6 months to 19 years) and concurrent (19 years) and LCPUFA status and a panel of 13 autoimmune markers at age 19 years. The autoimmune markers included antinuclear antibodies (ANA), anti-dsDNA and anti-RNP, and total (non-specific) immunoglobulins (Ig) IgG, IgA, and IgM. A combined ANA variable was also calculated based on being within or above reference range for any of the ANA markers; 56% of the subjects met this criterion. Multivariable regression models adjusted for prenatal MeHg, sex and waist circumference, with and without adjustment for LCPUFA, were fit for the three MeHg exposure metrics and each immune marker. Mean (SD) prenatal, weighted average and concurrent MeHg was 6.84 (4.55), 7.46 (2.82), and 10.23 (6.02) ppm, respectively. Combined ANA was positively associated with concurrent MeHg following adjustment for the n6:n3 LCPUFA ratio (β = 0.036, 95%; CI: 0.001, 0.073). Prenatal and average MeHg exposures were not significantly associated with any individual ANA. IgM was negatively associated with concurrent (β = -0.016, 95%CI: -0.016, -0.002), and average (β = -0.042, 95%CI: -0.042, -0.009) MeHg exposure in the models adjusted for n-3, n-6 LCPUFA and when separately adjusted for the n6:n3 LCPUFA ratio. Total (19-year) n-3 PUFA status was negatively associated with anti-RNP (β = -20.355, 95%CI: -36.89, -4.34) and IgG (β = -1.384, 95%CI: -2.682, -0.087). Total n-3 LCPUFA was associated with lower markers of autoimmunity. MeHg exposure at 19 years was associated with higher ANA and lower IgM but only following adjustment for LCPUFA. The clinical significance of these findings is unclear and further research is warranted to determine if these associations precede autoimmune disease development.
Optimal maternal polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) status is essential for foetal development. The desaturase enzymes, encoded by the fatty acid desaturase (FADS) genes, are involved in the endogenous synthesis of long chain (LC)PUFA and influence maternal LCPUFA concentrations. The minor allele of various FADS SNPs has been associated with increased maternal concentrations of the precursors linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA), and lower concentrations of the LCPUFA arachidonic acid (AA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); however, there is limited research to date on the influence of FADS genotype on cord PUFA status. The aim of the current study was to investigate the influence of maternal and child genetic variation on cord blood PUFA status in a high fish-eating cohort.
Cord blood samples collected from mother-child pairs (n = 1088) taking part in the Seychelles Child Development Study (SCDS) Nutrition Cohort 2 (NC2) were analysed for total serum PUFA. Maternal (n = 1088) and child genotype (n = 592) were determined for the FADS SNPs rs174537, rs174561, rs174575, and rs3834458. Regression analysis determined associations between maternal and child FADS genotype and cord PUFA status. In all regression models, the major allele homozygote genotype for each SNP was used as the reference group.
Directions of significant associations were as predicted. In mothers, the minor allele homozygote genotype for SNPs rs174537, rs174561 and rs3834458 was associated with lower cord DHA and lower total n-3 PUFA when compared to the major allele homozygous genotype (p < 0.05 for all). The heterozygous genotype was associated with increased concentrations of LA compared to the reference genotype for rs174561 (p = 0.021) and rs383448 (p = 0.023). In children, the heterozygous genotype was associated with lower AA concentrations and lower cord n-6:n-3 ratio for all SNPs (p < 0.05 for all) compared to those with the major allele homozygous genotype. A lower cord AA:LA ratio was also observed for children heterozygous for rs174547, rs174561 and rs174575 (p < 0.05 for all). Contrary to expected, there were no associations between cord PUFA concentrations and child minor allele homozygous genotype.
The current study indicates that variation in maternal and child FADS genotype influences cord PUFA concentrations, despite the high intake of preformed dietary LCPUFA from fish in this population. The sample size for minor allele homozygous children was likely too small to observe any statistically significant associations in the current analysis. Further research is needed to determine whether increased dietary intake can compensate for lower PUFA status as a result of FADS genotype.
Adequate I intake is important before conception and during pregnancy for optimal infant neurodevelopment. Recent studies have highlighted the prevalence of I deficiency in the UK and Ireland. It is possible that optimal I intake may be impeded by a poor knowledge of I nutrition. This study aimed to investigate I knowledge among women of childbearing age in the UK and Ireland and to determine whether a relationship exists between I knowledge and dietary I intake. Females (aged 18–45 years) were invited to complete an online questionnaire, which assessed knowledge of I and estimated dietary I intake using a FFQ. A total of 520 females of childbearing age completed the study. I knowledge was poor; only one-third (32 %) of the participants correctly identified pregnancy as the most important stage of the lifecycle for I, and 41 % of participants could not correctly identify any health problem related to I deficiency. The median daily I intake was estimated as 152 µg/d. Almost half (46 %) of the participants failed to meet dietary recommendations (140 µg/d) for I. A higher dietary I intake was positively associated with greater I knowledge (r 0·107; P=0·016). This study suggests that knowledge of I nutrition is low among women of childbearing age, and those with a greater knowledge of I nutrition had a higher dietary I intake. Initiatives to educate women of childbearing age on the importance of I nutrition should be considered as part of a larger public health strategy to address I deficiency.