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  1. CFSAN Constituent Updates

FDA and Federal Partners Conclude Study on the Role of Seafood Consumption in Child Growth and Development

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June 7, 2024

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) published the final version of the FDA co-sponsored report, The Role of Seafood in Child Growth and Development. The FDA commissioned the study to help provide the agency with the most up-to-date information on seafood and child development.

Among the report’s conclusions, it was determined that there is not enough evidence to suggest a need to revise the amounts of seafood recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), and that there is not enough evidence to assess the impact of exposure to contaminants from seafood – other than mercury. However, the report reconfirmed that seafood consumption among maternal and child populations remains low and recommended further development of strategies to support increasing consumption of seafood by children and those who might become or are pregnant or breastfeeding. The report also acknowledged that intake by certain groups —such as Asian and Native Americans and subsistence fishers and their families – is substantively higher.

The report recommends that the FDA routinely monitor the evidence as well as methodologies for integrating and assessing both risks and benefits from seafood on child developmental outcomes, and conduct such analyses to support agency regulations, policies, and programs. The findings highlight many areas for recommended research to fill knowledge gaps around the impact of exposures through seafood consumption on health.

The agency is considering the findings in the NASEM report, along with other data and information, to inform the joint FDA and EPA Advice About Eating Fish and the Closer to Zero Initiative. Closer to Zero is our strategic, long-term, iterative approach to reducing childhood dietary exposure to mercury and other environmental contaminants from foods, while maintaining access to nutritious foods. The FDA is also continuing robust collaborations with federal partners, including sampling and analysis of foods and expanding consumer education work through consumer studies and educational strategies and tools.

March 21, 2024

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a pre-publication version of the FDA-sponsored report, The Role of Seafood in Child Growth and Development. The FDA and other co-sponsors are reviewing the report’s findings and look forward to its final release in May 2024.

The National Academies Committee on The Role of Seafood in Child Growth and Development will provide an overview of their conclusions and recommendations in the pre-publication report in a public webinar.

Date: Tuesday, March 26, 2024
Time: 2 - 3 pm EDT
Location: Event Information and Registration

January 12, 2023

The National Academies Committee to Review the Role of Seafood in Child Growth and Development will webcast their first public information-gathering session.

Date: Thursday, January 19, 2023
Time: 2:00pm-3:15pm EST
Location: Event Information, Registration, and Webcast

The purpose of this meeting is for the committee to hear from the FDA and other federal agencies that are sponsoring the study on the committee’s task and the scope of the questions we are asking the committee to address in their scientific review.

Original Constituent Update

October 11, 2022

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

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. 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 also be a source of exposure for other naturally occurring and human-made contaminants. NASEM will convene a committee of experts to conduct systematic reviews of the scientific literature on seafood nutrition and toxicology; taken together, these data will inform the basis for evaluating how seafood consumption impacts child growth and development.

This study is designed to provide the most up-to-date understanding of the science of seafood consumption and child growth and development. Better understanding the science on mercury exposure from food is an important step in the cycle of continual improvement in the FDA’s Closer to Zero Action Plan. The study will also help inform whether updates are needed for the 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 approximately 18 months. The FDA will use the report’s findings, along with other data and information, to advance policies and programs that support healthy child growth and development.

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. 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.

Additional Information

 

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