This week, the FDA announced that it would initiate a study on the role of seafood in the safety, growth and development of children.
The Food and Drug Administration contracted the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) to perform the independent study. Additionally, the FDA is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, and the US Environmental Protection Agency for the study.
The study is being conducted in part to support the goals of the FDA’s Closer to Zero Action Plan to reduce exposure of infants and young children to mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium from food .
A NASEM ad hoc committee will be convened to examine associations between seafood consumption – both maternal and child – and child growth and development. Specifically, the committee:
· Evaluate data on dietary intake and seafood composition provided by proponents;
· Conduct systematic reviews of the scientific literature covering the areas of seafood nutrition and toxicology associated with seafood consumption and child growth and development;
· Review existing data sources on maternal and child seafood consumption and child growth and development; and
· Develop an approach to synthesizing scientific evidence and use this strategy to develop findings and conclusions (quantitative and/or qualitative) on associations between seafood consumption and child growth and development. The committee’s approach to synthesizing the evidence will be described in its report.
The committee will assess when or not to perform a formal risk-benefit analysis, in relation to risk-benefit factors, including how to assess the quality and uncertainty of a risk-benefit analysis. It will also provide information and scientific principles that can serve as a basis for assessing confidence in the potential conclusions of a risk-based analysis against these factors, as well as identifying and commenting on additional context, including fairness, diversity, inclusion and access to health. care that adds to the results of a risk-based analysis and any implications/applications that can inform policy decisions by decision makers.
The committee will report on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, including research recommendations and recommended amounts of seafood to eat to support healthy growth and allow children to reach their full development.
“Seafood is part of a healthy diet and provides essential nutrients during pregnancy, breastfeeding and/or infancy to support the development of a child’s brain, spinal cord and immune system. “, according to the FDA.
“At the same time, seafood is the main dietary source of mercury, which is released into the environment through natural and artificial 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 to other contaminants of natural and human origin. The study will also help determine if updates are needed for the Advice on fish consumption for children and those who could become or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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