One-Quarter of Pregnant Women Rarely, Never Consume Fish

Only 16.2 percent of participants reported omega-3 supplement use, which was more common for those with higher age, education
One-Quarter of Pregnant Women Rarely, Never Consume Fish
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Medically Reviewed By:
Meeta Shah, M.D.

FRIDAY, March 15, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- About one-quarter of pregnant women rarely or never consume fish during pregnancy, and few use omega-3 supplements, according to a study published online Feb. 27 in Public Health Nutrition.

Emily Oken, M.D., M.P.H., from Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston, and colleagues examined characteristics associated with self-reported fish or omega-3 supplement intake among 10,800 pregnant women in 23 cohorts with information on fish consumption and 12,646 from 35 cohorts with information on supplement use.

Overall, 24.6, 40.1, 22.1, and 13.2 percent of pregnant women reported consuming fish never or less than once per month, less than once a week, one to two times per week, and more than twice a week, respectively. The researchers found that the relative risk of ever versus never consuming fish was higher for older participants (1.14 for 35 to 40 versus <29 years), for other than non-Hispanic Whites (1.13, 1.05, and 1.06 for non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic Asian, and Hispanic, respectively), and with tobacco use (1.04). Those who were overweight versus healthy weight had a lower relative risk (0.97). Omega-3 supplement use was reported in 16.2 percent, which was more common for those with higher age and education, lower body mass index, and with fish consumption (relative risk, 1.5 for twice-weekly versus never).

"Ongoing effective public health advice and resources to support clinicians, are needed to encourage consumption of low-mercury fish during pregnancy and intake of omega-3 supplements among those who do not consume fish," the authors write.

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