Oral Presentation Joint Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of NZ and the Nutrition Society of Australia

Fish and shellfish intake prior to and during pregnancy among qualifying women in New Zealand (340)

Ying Jin 1 , Jane Coad 1 , Janet Weber 1 , Florent Gris 1 , Louise Brough 1
  1. Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

Background: Fish consumption is beneficial for foetal neurodevelopment due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids and other micronutrients. The Ministry of Health provides recommendations regarding restricting fish/shellfish consumption in pregnancy due to concerns regarding food safety and mercury contamination.

Aims:  To determine fish/shellfish intake in women before and during pregnancy.

Methods: Pregnant (66) and breastfeeding (87) women were recruited throughout New Zealand. Fish/shellfish intake was determined by a researcher led, food frequency questionnaire. Pregnant women recalled fish/shellfish consumption prior to pregnancy, while breastfeeding women recalled intake during pregnancy.

Results: Seventy percent were Caucasians and 85% had university degrees. All women ate fish/shellfish pre-pregnancy and 91% during pregnancy. Few women reported having fish/shellfish less than once weekly before pregnancy (9%) increasing to 24% during pregnancy (p=0.018). Around half (46%) of women ate fresh fish more than once a week before pregnancy, decreasing to 30% during pregnancy (p=0.041). Conversely, 39% of women ate canned fish more than once weekly before pregnancy, non-significantly rising to 47% during pregnancy. Of the participants, 37-45% consumed shellfish.

Conclusions: The majority of women consumed fish while less than half of women ate shellfish. Most women tended to eat fish/shellfish more than once a week. Fish intake decreased in pregnancy compared to before pregnancy. Further research is required to understand the reasons for reduced fish/shellfish intake in pregnancy.

Funding source: Massey University Research Fund