Eating oily fish while pregnant may protect children from developing schizophrenia when they grow older, new research suggests.
In trials on mice, scientists found mice deprived of omega-3 fatty acids in the womb displayed signs of the mental health disorder as adults.
The nutrient, abundant in salmon, mackerel and sardines, is already known to be good the brain – but the new study is the first to show a link to schizophrenia.
Japanese researchers also discovered similar effects for pregnant mice who had a lack of omega-6, found in mayonnaise, sunflower seeds and flaxseed oil.
Both nutrients change the way genes are expressed, a process called ‘epigenetics’, the scientists behind the landmark study believe.
They said the study provides ‘evidence’ of a potential new treatment that could revert the gene expression through giving patients the essential fatty acids.