Online Program

Seafood consumption in pregnancy, from policy to plate

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 3:30 p.m. - 3:50 p.m.

Emily Oken, MD, MPH, Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, MA

The possible combinations of matters related to fish consumption are many, but few, if any, fish consumption patterns optimize all domains.  In this talk, I will summarize the issue of fish consumption choice, with a focus on pregnancy and early childhood.  

I will also present results from an observational analysis of fish consumption during pregnancy and childhood cognition.  1999-2002 we enrolled pregnant women into a prospective cohort, and followed their children since.  At 24-28 weeks gestation we estimated maternal fish intake using a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire and collected blood. We assayed stored erythrocytes for total Hg and plasma for fatty acids including n-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). In mid-childhood we administered the Kauffman Brief Intelligence Test (KBIT) to children.  We performed multivariable linear regression analyses adjusting for maternal and child characteristics including home environment and maternal IQ. 

Finally, I will discuss results from a pilot randomized trial, in which we recruited 51 women in the greater Boston, MA area at 12–22 weeks gestation who consumed <=2 fish servings/month. We randomized participants to 3 arms: Advice to consume low-mercury/high-DHA fish (n=18); Advice + grocery store gift cards (GC) to purchase fish (n=17); or Control messages (n=20). At baseline and 12-week follow-up we estimated intake of fish, DHA and mercury using a 1-month fish intake food frequency questionnaire, and measured plasma DHA and blood and hair total mercury.  We found that the educational intervention successfully increased consumption of fish and DHA but not mercury.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the factors that influence fish consumption choices. List the two focus areas covered by this presentation as they relate to fish consumption choice. Discuss the challenges in creating rational fish consumption advice for pregnant women and young children.

Keyword(s): Food Safety, Prenatal Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted research related to fish consumption for over a decade; and have led several publications and grants on the topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.