Penn Nursing China Study: Eating Fish Raises Children's IQ Scores

Penn Nursing China Study: Eating Fish Raises Children's IQ Scores

Findings Generate Worldwide Media Pickup

In a continuation of its scientific engagements in China, a University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing research team's new study found that children who regularly eat fish have higher IQ scores and sleep more soundly than children who don't.

The study, "The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption – cognitive functioning relationship," was published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

Worldwide media pickup
Since publication on December 21, the study findings have generated worldwide headlines in media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, NewsweekCBS News, FOX News, US News & World Report, China Daily, Yahoo News Singapore, Times of London, and the Economic Times of India

Jianhong Liu and Jennifer Pinto-Martin


Jianghong Liu, PhD, RN, and LDI Senior Fellow Jennifer Pinto-Martin, PhD, MPH, both of Penn's School of Nursing.

Research team member Jennifer Pinto Martin, PhD, MPH, a professor at both the Nursing School and Penn's Perelman School of Medicine and an LDI Senior Fellow, told Penn News the findings "add to the growing body of evidence showing that fish consumption has really positive health benefits and should be something more heavily advertised and promoted. Children should be introduced to it early on."

An interesting insight produced by the work was that regular fish consumption's effect on children's sleeping patterns may be one of the factors associated with better cognitive outcomes.

Never connected before
According to Penn News, previous studies showed a relationship between omega-3s, the fatty acids in many types of fish, and improved intelligence, as well as omega-3s and better sleep. But they had never all been connected before. 

The study drew its subjects from the NIH-funded longitudinal China Jintan Child Cohort Study established and directed by Nursing School Associate Professor Jianghong Liu since 2004. Liu, PhD, RN, FAAN, splits her time between the Penn campus in the winter and the industrial city of Jintan, China, in the summer.