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A review of guidance on fish consumption in pregnancy: is it fit for purpose?

  • Caroline M Taylor (a1), Pauline M Emmett (a1), Alan M Emond (a1) and Jean Golding (a1)

Abstract

Objective

Public health messages to reduce Hg exposure for pregnant women have focused exclusively on advice on fish consumption to limit Hg exposure, with little account being taken of the positive contribution of fish to nutritional quality. The aim of the present review was to compare and contrast the content and presentation of national guidelines on fish consumption in pregnancy, and comment on their evidence base and impact on consumption.

Design

We searched for national and international guidelines on fish consumption in pregnancy using Internet search strategies. The detailed content and style of presentation of the guidelines were compared. The evidence base for the guidelines, and evidence for the impact of the guidelines on fish consumption levels, were assessed.

Results

We identified nineteen national guidelines and three international guidelines. There was great variation in the content, complexity and presentation style. The guidelines were based largely on the Hg content of fish with far less consideration being given to the positive beneficial effects of nutrients provided by fish. The complexity of the guidelines may lead to pregnant women reducing their fish intake, or not eating fish at all.

Conclusions

Guidelines on fish consumption in pregnancy should take the beneficial effects of fish into account. Guidelines need to be clear and memorable, and appropriately disseminated, to achieve impact. Guidelines could include visual rather than narrative content. Use of technology, for example apps, could enable women to record their fish consumption in real time and log compliance with guidance over a week or other time period.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email caroline.m.taylor@bristol.ac.uk

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Keywords

A review of guidance on fish consumption in pregnancy: is it fit for purpose?

  • Caroline M Taylor (a1), Pauline M Emmett (a1), Alan M Emond (a1) and Jean Golding (a1)

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