There’s nothing that rains on a pregnant woman’s parade quite like being told what she can and can’t eat… Especially when she’s craving exactly what she’s been told to avoid. A pastrami sandwich? Nope. A wedge of gooey brie cheese? That’s a hard pass.

We all know that eating a well-balanced diet is important throughout all stages of your life, but it’s even more important during pregnancy. Not only does a developing baby need essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, but so does the mother. And while most foods are considered safe, pregnant women commonly lament the dietary rules and restrictions their obstetricians (and let’s face it, friends, family and total strangers) provide.

But there’s good news for seafood-loving mommas-to-be.

Mother and Child Eating Fish

A recent scientific review, published by 13 scientists with a concentration in dietary fats, emphasizes seafood’s contributions to healthy infant and adolescent brain development. In fact, the study identified an average 7.7 point gain in I.Q. in children whose mothers ate seafood while pregnant compared to those whose mothers ate none. Plus, the benefits of eating seafood were apparent in infants as early as 14 months.

Considering an I.Q. between 90 and 110 is measured as average, and over 120 seen as superior, a 7.7 I.Q. point gain is a huge leap forward.

“The studies variously found that seafood eaters had lower risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, better school grades, and higher I.Q. by as much as 9.5 points compared with their peers who ate no fish. The highest intakes — more than 8 to 12 ounces a week — were associated with the greatest benefits,” writesNicholas Bakalar of The New York Times.

This good news rides on the heels of the FDA’s recently updated seafood guidelines. In July 2019, the FDA advised pregnant or breastfeeding women to increase their consumption of seafood low in mercury to 8 to 12 ounces.

Both the new study and the FDA’s latest updates acknowledge seafood’s nutritional profile, including iodine, selenium, vitamins B12 and D, iron, zinc, manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood rich in these nutrients include anchovies, clams, cod, salmon, shrimp, and many others.

What does this all mean? Seafood-loving pregnant women can get back to enjoying seafood! Mommas-to-be can savor delicious seafood that nurtures their minds and bodies as well as their babies’ eyes, bones and brains.