Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health

Nutrition, toxicology and child development

    Nutrition, toxicology and child development

    Fish contain nutrients that promote optimal foetal growth and development but also contain methylmercury (MeHg) that can have neurotoxic effects. A longitudinal observational mother-child cohort is investigating associations between maternal exposure to nutrients, especially long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) and toxins, especially MeHg, and child development in the Republic of Seychelles, an Indian Ocean archipelago where fish consumption is high.

    The Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study has been awarded two grants from the National Institutes of Health (USA) and one from the EU, through the 6th Framework integrated project PHIME. Findings emanating from the study support the potential importance to child development of n-3 LCPUFA present in fish and of LCPUFA in the overall diet and indicate that the beneficial effects of LCPUFA can obscure adverse effects of maternal MeHg exposure in longitudinal observational studies. This research is part of a large collaborative effort involving scientists not only from NICHE, University of Ulster but also a team of toxicologists, pediatricians, psychologists, statisticians, dietitians and nurses from the University of Rochester and the Ministry of Health in the Republic of Seychelles. Contact: Professor JJ Strain: jj.strain@ulster.ac.uk