FDA to study seafood’s role in child development

Published on
October 17, 2022

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is launching an independent study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) on the Role of Seafood Consumption in Child Growth and Development.

NASEM will review the state of scientific evidence in nutrition and toxicology of associations between seafood consumption and child growth and relevant aspects of development.

“This review will include a study of the associations between seafood intake (maternal and child) and child growth and development," according to the study description. "The goal is to have the most up-to-date understanding of the science on fish consumption in a whole diet context."

“Seafood is part of a healthy eating pattern and provides key nutrients during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and/or early childhood to support a child’s brain, spinal cord, and immune system development,” FDA said in a press release. “At the same time, seafood is the primary dietary source of mercury, which is spread throughout the environment by both natural and human-made processes. Mercury can damage the nervous system, and babies and young children are more vulnerable to the harmful health effects of mercury.”

Seafood can be a source of exposure for other naturally occurring and human-made contaminants, the FDA said.

The FDA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on this study, which supports the goals of the FDA’s Closer to Zero Action Plan for reducing the exposure of babies and young children to mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium from foods.

The study will help inform the FDA about whether updates are needed for its current Advice about Eating Fish for children and those who might become or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

NASEM will publish the committee’s report after the study is complete, in around 18 months.

During this time, the FDA “will continue to provide information about how those who are or might become pregnant or caring for young children can choose seafood varieties consistent with limiting exposure to mercury,” the agency said.

“We will use updated analytical methods to collect and analyze new data on the mercury content of seafood. We also plan to conduct research with consumers to better understand how the FDA can provide information that may help families consider how to make seafood part of a healthy diet.”

Photo courtesy of PR Image Factory/Shutterstock 

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