Maternal Fish Consumption and Infant Birth Size and Gestation: New York State Angler Cohort StudyReport as inadecuate

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Environmental Health

, 2:7

First Online: 02 June 2003Received: 05 March 2003Accepted: 02 June 2003DOI: 10.1186-1476-069X-2-7

Cite this article as: Buck, G.M., Tee, G.P., Fitzgerald, E.F. et al. Environ Health 2003 2: 7. doi:10.1186-1476-069X-2-7


BackgroundThe scientific literature poses a perplexing dilemma for pregnant women with respect to the consumption of fish from natural bodies of water. On one hand, fish is a good source of protein, low in fat and a rich source of other nutrients all of which have presumably beneficial effects on developing embryos and fetuses. On the other hand, consumption of fish contaminated with environmental toxicants such as polychlorinated biphenyls PCBs has been associated with decrements in gestation and birth size.

Methods2,716 infants born between 1986–1991 to participants of the New York State Angler Cohort Study were studied with respect to duration of maternal consumption of contaminated fish from Lake Ontario and its tributaries and gestation and birth size. Hospital delivery records maternal and newborn were obtained for 92% of infants for the ascertainment of gestation weeks, birth size weight, length, chest, and head circumference and other known determinants of fetal growth i.e., maternal parity, history of placental infarction, uterine bleeding, pregnancy loss or cigarette smoking and infant-s race, sex and presence of birth defect. Duration of maternal fish consumption prior to the index infant-s birth was categorized as: none; 1–2, 3–7, 8+ years, while birth weight in grams, birth length in centimeters, and head and chest circumference in centimeters were left as continuous variables in multiple linear regression models. Birth size percentiles, ponderal indices and head to chest circumference ratios were computed to further assess proportionality and birth size in relation to gestational age.

ResultsAnalysis of variance failed to identify significant mean differences in gestation or any measure of birth size in relation to duration of maternal lifetime fish consumption. Multiple linear regressions identified gestational age, male sex, number of daily cigarettes, parity and placental infarction, as significant determinants of birth size.

ConclusionsThe results support the absence of an adverse relation between Lake Ontario fish consumption and reduced birth size as measured by weight, length and head circumference. Biological determinants and maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy remain important determinants of birth size.

List of AbbreviationsNYSACSNew York State Angler Cohort Study

PCBpolychlorinated biphenyls

PIponderal index

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1476-069X-2-7 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Germaine M Buck - Grace P Tee - Edward F Fitzgerald - John E Vena - John M Weiner - Mya Swanson - Michael E Msall


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