International Conference on Nutrition focuses on First 1,000 Days of Life

Meeting calls for strategies to improve nutrition among pregnant and breastfeeding women.

November 19, Washington, DC Strategies to improve global nutrition during pregnancy and childhood is a priority at the second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), an inter-governmental nutrition meeting put on by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

A focus on maternal and early childhood nutrition is in step with the latest recommendations were seeing across global health organizations, said Rima Kleiner, MS, RD, a Registered Dietitian for the National Fisheries Institute. Fish consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding, for example, provides essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty-acids, which are literally the building blocks for brain and eye development, yet pregnant women, especially in the U.S., arent eating nearly enough to realize the benefits.

ICN2 comes just one month after the Committee on World Food Security made encourage[ing] consumption of fish especially by pregnant and breastfeeding women, children a key recommendation in its report. And in June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft update of its own advice to pregnant women on eating seafood.

ICN2 focuses global attention on hunger and malnutrition with a special focus on the most nutritionally vulnerable life stages; the first 1,000 days beginning at conception. The conference plans to address todays major nutrition challenges.

The science is clear, said John Connelly, President of the National Fisheries Institute, in Rome for the conference. Seafood during pregnancy and breastfeeding is one of the best things you can do for your baby from a nutrition standpoint, and communicating that to these populations is essential. But policy makers need to be certain that the messages they deliver dont focus on expensive, exotic and unavailable varieties. More and more we see world nutrition bodies delivering realistic, understandable messaging that benefits populations that might have limited food options. It is important that FDA follow this model.

With this in mind another focus during ICN2 is how to ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of a variety of foods, including seafood.

ICN2 will propose a flexible policy framework to identify priorities for enhanced international cooperation on nutrition. The outcome will contribute to the UN Secretary-Generals call for a high degree of policy coherence at global, regional, national and sub-national levels and a global partnership for development at all levels.

Regardless of where the message is coming from it should be consistent and inclusive; pregnant women and young children need to eat more seafood for better health, said Kleiner. Not considering the realities of accessibility for low income populations fails them.

The conference is being held at FAO Headquarters, in Rome, through November 21, 2014.

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: