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Contribution of fish to intakes of micronutrients important for fetal development: a dietary survey of pregnant women in the Republic of Seychelles

  • Maxine P Bonham (a1), Emeir M Duffy (a1), Paula J Robson (a1), Julie M Wallace (a1), Gary J Myers (a2), Philip W Davidson (a3), Tom W Clarkson (a4), Conrad F Shamlaye (a5), JJ Strain (a1) and M Barbara E Livingstone (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S136898000800387X
  • Published online: 01 September 2009
Abstract
AbstractObjectives

To characterise the diets of pregnant women in the Republic of Seychelles and to determine the contribution of fish to intakes of nutrients important for fetal and neonatal development.

Design

Observational, prospective study.

Setting

Seychelles Child Development Centre, Mahé, Republic of Seychelles.

Subjects and methods

Pregnant women (n 300) were recruited at their first visit to an antenatal clinic. At 28 weeks’ gestation subjects completed a 4 d diet diary (n 273) and intakes were analysed using dietary analysis software.

Results

Mean (sd) energy intake was 9·0 (2·5) MJ/d and fat intakes were higher than UK recommendations for almost two-thirds of the cohort. Fish consumption was lower than in previous surveys, suggesting a move towards a more Westernised diet. Low intakes of a number of nutrients important during pregnancy for fetal development (Fe, Zn, Se and iodine) were observed. However, women who met the current recommendations for these nutrients consumed significantly more fish than those who did not (97 v. 73 g/d).

Conclusions

The present study highlights the importance of fish in the diet of pregnant Seychellois women for ensuring adequate intakes of micronutrients important in fetal development. Dietary patterns in Seychelles, however, are in a state of transition, with a move towards a Western-style diet as evidenced by higher fat and lower fish intakes. If these dietary trends continue and fish consumption declines further, micronutrient status may be compromised. These findings suggest caution in establishing public health policies that promote limitation of fish intake during pregnancy.

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Corresponding author: Email mp.bonham@ulster.ac.uk
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