FDA Says Pregnant Women Should Eat At Least Four Times As Much Seafood As They Currently Do
Draft advice says eat two to three seafood meals a week to maximize benefits
Washington, DC June 10, 2014 New advice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on a decades worth of progressive, published science, clears the water on outdated seafood guidance for pregnant and breastfeeding women. New moms and moms-to-be are now encouraged to eat two to three servings of seafood each week to help their babies brain develop.
After extensive review of the health effects of eating fish – including consideration of nutrients like omega-3s and selenium in addition to mercury – experts conclude that eating a variety of seafood at least twice each week during pregnancy improves baby brain development. Because pregnant women in the U.S. eat so little seafood each week, most expectant moms should aim to quadruple the amount of fish they eat to meet the newly proposed draft recommendation.
This advice follows three exhaustive reviews of the health effects of eating seafood during pregnancy all of which point to the need for women to eat at least two seafood meals weekly.
- Quantitative Assessment of the Net Effects on Fetal Neurodevelopment from the Eating Commercial Fish (As Measured by IQ and also by Early Age Verbal Development in Children) June 2014 – The methodology used for this quantitative assessment is novel for FDA in that, rather than attempting to quantify the risk resulting from the presence of a particular hazard in a food, it seeks to balance that risk and the benefit from consumption of the food in the same quantitative analysis. Over 110 published studies were reviewed and the conclusions were vetted by expert peer-reviewers.
- World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Joint Expert Consultation on the Risks and Benefits of Fish Consumption, September 2011 A panel of 17 nutrition experts, physicians, and toxicologists reviewed nearly 150 studies.
- United States Department of Agriculture and United States Department of Health and Human Services 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, January 2011 – A panel of 13 nutrition experts and physicians reviewed 37 studies about seafood and mercury.
“FDA is working to translate years of important nutrition science into updated advice, and thats exciting,” said NFI’s Jennifer McGuire MS, RD. “Expectant moms and health professionals alike have been confused about seafood advice during pregnancy and FDA has begun the process of setting the record straight that fish should be a pregnancy staple.”
The release of this draft advice signals the start of the real hard work making sure the details of the advice line up with the nearly 300 pages of peer-reviewed science that accompany it. And that it is crafted in a way that makes it clear and easy for moms-to-be to understand and act upon it.
“This news begins to mobilize pregnant women to add more fish to their diets,” said McGuire. “It is an important starting point.”
For more than 60 years, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) and its members have provided American families with the variety of sustainable seafood essential to a healthy diet. For more information visit: www.AboutSeafood.com.