Nutritional benefits of fish and shellfish in children outweigh risks: AAP
A report published in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal Pediatrics informs pediatricians about available research that elucidates benefits and health risks associated with the consumption of shellfish and fish in children as well as the sustainability of shellfish and fish harvests.
According to the report, children should be encouraged to consume shellfish and fish as they have a favorable nutrient profile compared to other animal proteins. They are also a good source of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 LCPUFAs), vitamin D, calcium and lean protein.
Aaron S. Bernstein, from Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues informed pediatricians about research elucidating the health risks and benefits associated with fish and shellfish consumption among children.
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- The investigators found mixed or null results in studies that evaluated the effects of childhood fish consumption and/or n-3 LCPUFAs on the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, depression symptoms, allergic disease, inflammatory bowel disease flares, cognitive development, hyperlipidemia, and prevention or treatment of hypertension.
- For some diseases, fish oil supplementation may benefit children with below average levels of n3-LCPUFAs.
- Due to the presence of toxicants in fish, many accessible resources provide guidance on which species to limit or avoid.
- Certain species can be a source of methylmercury, which may damage the developing nervous system in utero.
- Fish captured in freshwater bodies may have high concentrations of pollutants.
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"We're encouraging pediatricians to ask families about fish and shellfish consumption," Bernstein said in a statement. "For most types of seafood, the nutritional benefits far outweigh the risks.
"Even if fish and shellfish have a favorable nutritional profile compared with other forms of animal protein, the available research to substantiate specific health benefits from fish and shellfish consumption in children remains limited. Further research is needed to clarify the value of fish and shellfish consumption in childhood to health," concluded the authors.