Greater fish consumption is associated with improved cognition among children, but the mediating pathways have not been well delineated. Now scientists have demonstrated that children who consume fish at least once a week sleep better and have IQ scores that are four points higher, on average, than those who consume fish less frequently or not at all. The study, published in Scientific Reports, reveals sleep as a possible mediating pathway, the potential missing link between fish and intelligence.
The research included 541 children. Fish consumption and sleep quality were assessed at age 9-11 years, while IQ was assessed at age 12. Frequent fish consumption was related to both fewer sleep problems and higher IQ scores. A dose-response relationship indicated higher IQ scores in children who always (4.80 points) or sometimes (3.31 points) consumed fish, compared to those who rarely ate fish (all P<.05). Sleep quality partially mediated the relationship between fish consumption and verbal, but not performance, IQ. Findings were robust after controlling for multiple sociodemographic covariates.
The study is the first to indicate that frequent fish consumption may help reduce sleep problems, which may, in turn, benefit long-term cognitive functioning in childre