Diet in Women and Children

NASEM Report Highlights Seafood’s Role in Child Development

NASEM Report Highlights Seafood’s Role in Child Development

Southstream Seafoods is excited to share insights by Bailee Henderson from Food Safety Magazine, about the NASEM report, which provides access to critical information about seafood’s role in child development and the critical nutrients it provides. This extensive study marks a groundbreaking effort, highlighting the critical nature of the findings regarding the dietary habits of women and children. The report underscores the importance of nutrition, revealing that fish consumption among these groups falls significantly below the Dietary Guidelines recommendation of the advised twice-weekly intake. The NASEM report addresses nutritional benefits and mercury exposure concerns, which is a pivotal resource for policymakers and health professionals. For a deeper understanding, read Henderson’s article below.

A glimpse into the article:

Overall, the NASEM report findings show that most women of childbearing age, children, and adolescents do not consume the recommended amounts and types of seafood, and the report calls for strategies to support increasing consumption toward meeting recommendations. Although the committee found the existence of insufficient evidence suggesting a need to revise seafood consumption guidelines, the need to identify strategies to help individuals meet current guidelines is clear. The study also emphasizes the importance of a seafood diet in providing essential nutrients while minimizing exposure to toxins.

Eat More Fish—NASEM Concludes Study on Role of Seafood in Child Growth and Development

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has completed its study on “The Role of Seafood in Child Growth and Development,” fulfilling an October 2022 request from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The research aimed to better understand the nutritional benefits of seafood consumption weighed against the health risks posed by toxic heavy metals and other contaminants present in seafood, specifically concerning pregnant/nursing women and children and the developmental/lifelong effects of exposure.  

According to NASEM, although seafood is an important source of key nutrients, it can also be a source of exposure to contaminants such as methylmercury; persistent pollutants like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls; and microbiological hazards that may be detrimental to the growth and development of children. Still, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 (DGA) includes an overarching recommendation that all U.S. adults aim to consume at least 8 ounces (two servings) of seafood per week. Children are recommended to consume two servings per week proportional to the child’s total caloric intake, beginning at six months of age.

FDA’s Closer to Zero action plan was launched in April 2021 to reduce children’s exposure to four toxic heavy metals that can harm childhood development—arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury—and the action plan serves as the foundation for DGA seafood recommendations. The juxtaposition of nutritional benefits and toxicological risks associated with the consumption of seafood led the FDA to convene a committee to review the role of seafood in the diets of pregnant and lactating women and children, including adolescents, considering both the potentially detrimental components of seafood as well as those that are beneficial, to evaluate their respective, interacting, and complex roles in child development and lifelong health…

Want to learn more about the NASEM report, read this article by Bailee Henderson from Food Safety MagazineEat More Fish—NASEM Concludes Study on Role of Seafood in Child Growth and Development

About the Author: Bailee Henderson is the Digital Editor of Food Safety Magazine.