Nutrition, toxicology and child development

Research in nutrition, toxicology and child development.

The Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health (USA) and previously has been awarded multiple NIH grants (USA) and one from the EU.

Fish contain nutrients which promote optimal foetal growth and development but also contain methylmercury (MeHg) which can have neurotoxic effects. A longitudinal observational mother-child cohort is investigating associations between maternal exposure to nutrients, including 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.

Findings emanating from the study support the potential importance to child development of n-3 LCPUFA present in fish and in the overall diet and indicate that the beneficial effects of LCPUFA and other nutrients in fish outweigh any 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, but also a team of toxicologists, pediatricians, psychologists, geneticists, statisticians, dietitians and nurses from the University of Rochester, New York; the Ministry of Health in the Republic of Seychelles and the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.

Dr Alison Yeates who is involved in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study, talks about her research into the consumption of fish while pregnant, and the benefits and drawbacks it may have on the child.