Fish intake during pregnancy, fetal growth, and gestational length in 19 European birth cohort studies

V Leventakou, T Roumeliotaki, D Martinez, H Barros, AL Brantsaeter, M Casas, MA Charles, S Cordier, M Eggesbo, M van Eijsden, F Forastiere, U Gehring, E Govarts, TI Halldorsson, W Hanke, M Haugen, DHM Heppe, B Heude, HM Inskip, VWV JaddoeM Jansen, C Kelleher, HM Meltzer, F Merletti, C Molto-Puigmarti, M Mommers, M Murcia, A Oliveira, SF Olsen, F Pele, K Polanska, D Porta, L Richiardi, SM Robinson, H Stigum, M Strom, J Sunyer, C Thijs, K Viljoen, TGM Vrijkotte, AH Wijga, M Kogevinas, M Vrijheid, L Chatzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Fish is a rich source of essential nutrients for fetal development, but in contrast, it is also a well-known route of exposure to environmental pollutants.

Objective: We assessed whether fish intake during pregnancy is associated with fetal growth and the length of gestation in a panel of European birth cohort studies.

Design: The study sample of 151,880 mother-child pairs was derived from 19 population-based European birth cohort studies. Individual data from cohorts were pooled and harmonized. Adjusted cohort-specific effect estimates were combined by using a random- and fixed-effects meta-analysis.

Results: Women who ate fish >1 time/wk during pregnancy had lower risk of preterm birth than did women who rarely ate fish (≤1 time/wk); the adjusted RR of fish intake >1 but <3 times/wk was 0.87 (95% CI: 0.82, 0.92), and for intake ≥3 times/wk, the adjusted RR was 0.89 (95% CI: 0.84, 0.96). Women with a higher intake of fish during pregnancy gave birth to neonates with a higher birth weight by 8.9 g (95% CI: 3.3, 14.6 g) for >1 but <3 times/wk and 15.2 g (95% CI: 8.9, 21.5 g) for ≥3 times/wk independent of gestational age. The association was greater in smokers and in overweight or obese women. Findings were consistent across cohorts.

Conclusion: This large, international study indicates that moderate fish intake during pregnancy is associated with lower risk of preterm birth and a small but significant increase in birth weight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-516
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of clinical nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • pregnancy
  • birth weight
  • children
  • gestational age
  • women
  • fetal-growth
  • premature birth
  • fish intake


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