Fish Consumption Increases in Women of Childbearing Age
Fish consumption has increased in women of childbearing age in the U.S. in recent years, while blood mercury concentrations have decreased, suggesting improved health for women and their babies, according to a new study conducted by Oregon State University and published in the February 2017 Environmental Health journal.
The research also indicates that fish consumption advisories tailored to specific regions and ethnic groups would help women of childbearing age eat in healthy ways and more adequately monitor their own mercury intake.
The omega-3 fatty acids in seafood promote neurodevelopment and the nutrients in seafood are especially important for pregnant women to pass on to developing fetuses.
Consuming seafood is the primary way people are exposed to toxic methylmercury. The consumption of seafood and increase in blood mercury levels varies greatly by region. Women in the Northeast were found to have the highest blood mercury levels, while women in the Midwest had the lowest.
Currently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration recommend that women of childbearing age eat two meals of low-mercury fish per week.
Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer in Chapel Hill.