According to the FDA, pregnant women should consume 8-12 ounces of seafood with a low mercury content each week. Evidence supports that seafood consumption during pregnancy can have positive effects on the children. However, consumption of seafood by pregnant women in the United States is well below that. Four systematic reviews have been conducted to identify all the research related to consumption of seafood by pregnant women and the health outcomes on the children. For this project, CFI is developing a meta-analysis to quantitatively combine the results from these studies to report the overall impact of prenatal seafood consumption on these outcomes. In addition, the estimates of consumption by women of child-bearing age in the United States will be updated. We also plan to estimate the economic impact of the less-than-recommended amount of seafood being consumed by pregnant women.
This project will provide several outputs that can be used to inform decision making regarding prenatal consumption of seafood. First, quantifying the estimates of health impact from prenatal consumption of seafood will demonstrate the strength of the evidence behind the FDA recommendation. Second, an updated consumption estimate will indicate if the consumption is trending in the right direction. The economic estimate of loss from underconsumption of seafood by pregnant women will provide motivation and incentive for influencing decision making related to prenatal consumption of seafood by nutritionists, health care providers, and everyone who communicates with pregnant women about food. Finally, database created for the meta-analysis will be a useful resource for anyone else interested in conducting research on this topic.
Once this research is completed, the path for increasing the consumption of seafood by pregnant women will be well-lit, and hopefully will lead to increase prenatal consumption and increased health outcomes in the children.