Page content

The SCDS, comprising longitudinal observational mother-child cohorts, was established in the mid-1980s with the main aim to study the effects of prenatal exposure to methylmercury on child development within the Republic of Seychelles, an Indian Ocean archipelago where fish consumption is high. All studies received approval from the Seychelles Ethics Board and the Research Subjects Review Board at the University of Rochester, USA The Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health (USA) and previously has been awarded multiple grants from NIH (USA) and the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning and one from the EU.

The Republic of Seychelles provides the ideal environment to investigate the effects of fish consumption on child development owing to the high fish consumption within the population, with the mothers enrolled typically consuming on average more than eight fish meals per week.  The Republic of Seychelles has free healthcare and education and no local sources of pollution, which might influence child development.

Findings emanating from the study support the potential importance to child development of the nutrients present within fish including n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) and indicate that the beneficial effects of LCPUFA and other components of fish outweigh any adverse effects of maternal MeHg exposure previously reported in other longitudinal studies.

Find out more about our research through our Research Excellence Framework Case Studies:

Seychelle's Child Development Study Objectives
  • References

    Davidson O.W., Strain J.J., Myers G.J., Thurston S.W., Bonham M.P., Shamlaye C.F., Stokes-Riner A., Wallace J.M.W., Robson P.J., Duffy E.M., Georger L.A., Sloane-Reeves J., Cernichiari E., Canfield R.L., Cox C., Huang L.S., Janciuras J., Clarkson T.W. (2008) Neurodevelopmental Effects of Maternal Nutritional Status and Exposure to Methylmercury from Eating Fish during Pregnancy. Neurotoxicology. 29(5):767-775. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuro.2008.06.001

    Strain J.J., Davidson P.W., Bonham M.P., Duffy E.M., Stokes-Riner A., Thurston S.W., Wallace J.M.W., Robson P.J., Shamlaye C.F., Georger L.A., Sloane-Reeves J., Cernichiari E., Canfield R.L., Cox C., Huang L.S., Janciuras J., Myers G.J., Clarkson T.W. (2008) Associations of maternal long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, methyl mercury, and infant development in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study. Toxicology. 29(5):776-782. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuro.2008.06.002

    Bonham M.P., Duffy E.M., Wallace J.M.W., Robson P.J., Myers G.J., Davidson P.W., Clarkson T.W., Shamlaye C.F., Strain J.J. (2008) Habitual fish consumption does not prevent a decrease in LCPUFA in pregnant women (the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study) Prostaglandins Leukot. Essent. Fatty Acids 78(6):343-350. DOI: 10.1016/j.plefa.2008.04.005

    McAfee, A., Mulhern, M., McSorley, E., Wallace, J., Bonham, M., Faure, J., Romain S., Esther C., Shamlaye C.F., Myers G.J., Clarkson T.W., Davidson P.W., Strain, J. (2012). Intakes and adequacy of potentially important nutrients for cognitive development among 5-year-old children in the Seychelles Child Development and Nutrition Study. Public Health Nutrition, 15(9), 1670-1677. doi:10.1017/S136898001200016X

    J.J. Strain, P.W. Davidson, S.W. Thurston, D Harrington, M.S. Mulhern, A.J. McAfee, E. van Wijngaarden, C.F. Shamlaye, J Henderson, G.E. Watson, G. Zareba, D.A. Cory-Slechta, M. Lynch, J.M.W. Wallace, E.M. McSorley, M.P. Bonham, A. Stokes-Riner, J. Sloane-Reeves, J. Janciuras, R. Wong, T.W. Clarkson, G. J. Myers. (2012) Maternal PUFA Status but Not Prenatal Methylmercury Exposure Is Associated with Children's Language Functions at Age Five Years in the Seychelles. The Journal of Nutrition. 142(11): 1943-1949. DOI:

    E. van Wijngaarden, S.W. Thurston, G.J. Myers, J.J. Strain, B. Weiss, T. Zarcone, G.E. Watson, G. Zareba, E.M. McSorley, M.S. Mulhern, A.J. Yeates, J. Henderson, J. Gedeon, C.F. Shamlaye, P.W. Davidson (2013) Prenatal methyl mercury exposure in relation to neurodevelopment and behaviour at 19years of age in the Seychelles Child Development Study. Neurotoxicology and Teratology. 39:19-25. DOI:

    Strain J.J., Alison J.Y., van Wijngaarden E., Thurston S.W., Mulhern M.S., McSorley E.M., Watson G.E., Love T.M., Smith T.H., Yost K., Harrington D., Shamlaye C.F., Henderson J., Myers G.J., Davidson P.W. (2015) Prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from fish consumption and polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with child development at 20 months of age in an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 101(3):530-537. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100503

    A.J. Yeates, T.M. Love, K. Engström, M.S. Mulhern, E.M. McSorley, K. Grzesik, A. Alhamdow, K. Wahlberg, S. W. Thurston, P.W. Davidson, E. van Wijngaarden, G.E. Watson, C.F. Shamlaye, G.J. Myers, J.J. Strain, K. Broberg. (2015) Genetic variation in FADS genes is associated with maternal long-chain PUFA status but not with cognitive development of infants in a high fish-eating observational study. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. 102–103:13-20. DOI:

    Yeates A.J., Love T.M., Engstrom K., Mulhern M.S., McSorley E.M., Grzesik K., Alhamdow A., Wahlberg K., Thurston S.W., Davidson P.W., van Wijngaarden E., Watson G.E., Shamlaye C.F., Myers G.J., Strain J.J. and Broberg, K. (2015) Genetic variation in FADS genes is associated with maternal long-chain PUFA status but not with cognitive development of infants in a high fish-eating observational study. Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 102-103, 13-20.

    Conway M.C., Mulhern M.S., McSorley E.M., van Wijngaarden E., Strain J.J., Myers G.J., Davidson P.W., Shamlaye C.F., Yeates A.J. (2018) Dietary Determinants of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid (PUFA) Status in High Fish-Eating Cohort During Pregnancy. Nutrients. 10(7):927. DOI:

    Conway M.C., Yeates A.J., Love T.M., Weller D., McSorley E.M., Mulhern M.S., Wesolowska M., Watson G.E., Myers G.J., Shamlaye C.F., Henderson J., Davidson P.W., van Wijngaarden E., Strain J.J. (2023). Maternal fish consumption and child neurodevelopment in Nutrition 1 Cohort: Seychelles Child Development Study. Br. J. Nutr. DOI:

In this section

Seychelles Child Development Study - Cohorts

Seychelles Child Development Study Cohorts