• Decrease font size
  • Return font size to normal
  • Increase font size
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Scientific Publications by FDA Staff

  • Print
  • Share
  • E-mail

Search Publications



Starting Date

Ending Date

Order by

Entry Details

Environ Res 2012 Jul;116:85-92

Awareness of methylmercury in fish and fish consumption among pregnant and postpartum women and women of childbearing age in the United States.

Lando AM, Fein SB, Choiniere CJ


In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reissued joint advice recommending that pregnant women, nursing mothers, young children, and women who may become pregnant not consume fish high in mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, and not consume more than 12 ounces (340.2g) of other lower mercury fish per week. These groups were encouraged to eat up to 12 ounces (340.2g) of low mercury fish per week to get the health benefits of fish. Using a survey of 1286 pregnant women, 522 postpartum women, and a control group of 1349 non-pregnant/non-postpartum women of childbearing age, this study evaluated awareness of mercury as a problem in food and examined fish consumption levels across groups using regression analysis. We also compared awareness of mercury as a problem in food to awareness of Listeria, dioxins and PCBs. We found that the majority of all 3 groups of women were aware of mercury and that nearly all women in all 3 groups limited consumption consistent with the advice; they ate less than 340.2g (12oz) of fish per week and no high mercury fish. Compared with the control group, pregnant and postpartum women were more likely to be aware of mercury as a problem in food, and pregnant women ate less total fish and were less likely to eat fish, to eat more than 340.2g (12oz) of fish, and to eat high mercury fish. However, all groups ate much less than the recommended 340.2g (12oz) of low mercury fish per week for optimum health benefits. Among women who ate fish, the median intake of total fish was 51.6g/wk (1.8oz/wk), 71.4g/wk (2.5oz/wk), and 85.3g/wk (3.0oz/wk) for the pregnant, postpartum, and control groups, respectively. Thus, it appears that the targeted groups of women were more aware of mercury and were eating fish within the FDA/EPA guidelines, but these women may be missing the health benefits to themselves and their children of eating a sufficient amount of fish.

Category: Journal Article
PubMed ID: #22534145 DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2012.04.002
Includes FDA Authors from Scientific Area(s): Food, Tobacco
Entry Created: 2012-04-27 Entry Last Modified: 2012-08-29