Importance: Maternal fish intake in pregnancy has been shown to influence fetal growth. The extent to which fish intake affects childhood growth and obesity remains unclear.
Objective: To examine whether fish intake in pregnancy is associated with offspring growth and the risk of childhood overweight and obesity.
Design, setting, and participants: Multicenter, population-based birth cohort study of singleton deliveries from 1996 to 2011 in Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Massachusetts. A total of 26,184 pregnant women and their children were followed up at 2-year intervals until the age of 6 years.
Exposures: Consumption of fish during pregnancy.
Main outcomes and measures: We estimated offspring body mass index percentile trajectories from 3 months after birth to 6 years of age. We defined rapid infant growth as a weight gain z score greater than 0.67 from birth to 2 years and childhood overweight/obesity at 4 and 6 years as body mass index in the 85th percentile or higher for age and sex. We calculated cohort-specific effect estimates and combined them by random-effects meta-analysis.
Results: This multicenter, population-based birth cohort study included the 26,184 pregnant women and their children. The median fish intake during pregnancy ranged from 0.5 times/week in Belgium to 4.45 times/week in Spain. Women who ate fish more than 3 times/week during pregnancy gave birth to offspring with higher body mass index values from infancy through middle childhood compared with women with lower fish intake (3 times/week or less). High fish intake during pregnancy (>3 times/week) was associated with increased risk of rapid infant growth, with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 1.22 (95% CI, 1.05-1.42) and increased risk of offspring overweight/obesity at 4 years (aOR, 1.14 [95% CI, 0.99-1.32]) and 6 years (aOR, 1.22 [95% CI, 1.01-1.47]) compared with an intake of once per week or less. Interaction analysis showed that the effect of high fish intake during pregnancy on rapid infant growth was greater among girls (aOR, 1.31 [95% CI, 1.08-1.59]) than among boys (aOR, 1.11 [95% CI, 0.92-1.34]; P = .02 for interaction).
Conclusions and relevance: High maternal fish intake during pregnancy was associated with increased risk of rapid growth in infancy and childhood obesity. Our findings are in line with the fish intake limit proposed by the US Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.