The One Food That’s Missing From Most Kids’ Diets, Pediatricians Say

Kids’ consumption of this food has been on a steady decline since 2007.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
May 21, 2019
mom with toddler daughter cooking in kitchen
Image: iStock

Many types of fish and seafood offer a variety of important nutrients, but more than 90 percent of the animal protein kids eat comes from other sources, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In the report, the AAP highlights the potential benefits and risks associated with eating these foods.

Fish and shellfish are great sources for lean protein, calcium, vitamin D and omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. They’re also the primary natural dietary source of essential nutrients docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid. Omega-3 nutrients found in seafood are known to improve brain function, according to the AAP. Other health benefits for kids include the possibility of preventing some allergic reactions, such as asthma and eczema, and decreasing their risk for cardiovascular disease. With that in mind, eating contaminated fish with methylmercury pollution can pose potentially harmful effects on a child’s developing nervous system.

Federal advisories on possible fish contamination may have pushed people away from eating fish, but the pediatricians hope their recommendations steer parents toward seafood that can be safely added to children’s diets.

Each week, children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat one to two servings of a variety of fish from those recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration The agency says the “best” options include salmon, tuna, flounder, crawfish, sardines, cod and scallops. Freshwater fish eaters should check US Environmental Protection Agency advisories before making a meal of what they catch, the AAP recommends. Fish and shellfish captured may have high concentrations of pollutants, and if a body of water goes unmonitored, families should not eat fish from it more than once a week.

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