Food and Behaviour Research

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Fish, Shellfish, and Children’s Health: An Assessment of Benefits, Risks, and Sustainability

Bernstein AS, Oken E, de Ferranti S (2019) Pediatrics.  2019 May.  pii: e20190999. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-0999. [Epub ahead of print] 

Web URL: Read the full report on the pediatrics website here

Abstract:

American children eat relatively little fish and shellfish in comparison with other sources of animal protein, despite the health benefits that eating fish and shellfish may confer. At the same time, fish and shellfish may be sources of toxicants. This report serves to inform pediatricians about available research that elucidates health risks and benefits associated with fish and shellfish consumption in childhood as well as the sustainability of fish and shellfish harvests.

Fish and shellfish are, in general, good sources of low-fat protein rich in several essential vitamins and minerals as well as, in certain instances, the essential nutrients omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFAs). Some guidance is available and accessible to pediatric health care providers or families to assist them with navigating fish and shellfish choices, but most sources focus on consumption by adults or pregnant women1and do not directly address childhood consumption.

This report provides an overview of the potential risks and benefits associated with childhood consumption of fish and shellfish. Whenever possible, it draws on research performed with children. However, in instances when such evidence is not available, it will examine prenatal and adult evidence.

This report also addresses the sustainability of fish and shellfish choices. Approximately 90% of fisheries worldwide are exploited at or above maximum sustainable yield. As a result, any guidance on fish consumption must consider sustainability to protect the viability of fisheries.

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