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Scientists have urged the FDA to modify its advice on fish consumption and pregnant women. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)

125 experts join for updated FDA fish advice

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010, 16:40 (GMT + 9)

Two of the world’s top brain and neurological development experts are being joined by 125 others in requesting that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) update its 2004 advice on fish and pregnancy because it is outdated and may be “inadvertently causing harm.” 

Professors Thomas Brenna of Cornell University and Michael Crawford of London Metropolitan University sent an open letter to FDA Commissioner Dr Margaret Hamburg in May when the petition was posted online.

Back in May, concerned scientists from the US and Europe urged the FDA to complete its 2009 draft assessment on fish consumption and pregnant women. The scientists recommended that FDA modify that advice now that new information is available.

"[A] consistent stream of new publications and international scientific evaluations has persuaded us that this advice has become outdated and that it may be inadvertently causing harm, inconsistent with your public health mission,” the letter reads. 

“We commend FDA for its history of willingness to modify that advice when warranted by new information. The time for the next update has come," it continues.

In a few weeks, the online petition has gathered 125 signatures, including those by PhDs from Cornell and Oxford and MDs from Harvard and the University of North Carolina (UNC). World class scientists from Denmark, Australia, the UK, France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Canada and Iceland have all signed.

“This petition includes a who’s who of independent researchers,” said Jennifer McGuire MS RD, director of nutrition communications for the National Fisheries Institute (NFI). “They all know that over the past six years a wealth of science has been produced that shows the real risk to pregnant women and unborn children is in not eating enough fish.”

Science had not made enough progress by 2004 to properly consider the full health benefits of eating fish, told Brenna and Crawford.

"[It] is no longer consistent with the recommendation to limit consumption of all fish to a maximum of 12 oz per week for pregnant and lactating women and women who may become pregnant," according to the letter.  

"There is persuasive new evidence that consumption of more than 12 ox per week of most marketplace species will actually improve fetal neurodevelopment.  This improvement occurs in spite of methyl-mercury in most, if not all fish."

Related article:

- Scientists pressure FDA to update fish consumption draft

By Natalia Real



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