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J Reprod Med. 2009 May;54(5):267-72.

Awareness and implications of fish consumption advisories in a women's health setting.

Author information

  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, 295 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29425, USA. frithse@musc.edu



To determine awareness of fish consumption advisories and fish consumption patterns among women and to explore demographic associations with advisory awareness and fish consumption.


An anonymous survey was given in 2006-2007 to women seeking care at the Medical University of South Carolina Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Family Medicine.


The population (N = 453) was predominantly black, with an annual income of < $50,000, and 36.5% were pregnant. Overall, 47.0% reported awareness of fish consumption advisories, with pregnant women more knowledgeable compared to nonpregnant, and whites more aware than blacks. Fish consumption in this population is low, with 97.3% of respondents consuming fish twice per week or less. Fish advisory information is commonly obtained via the popular media.


Fewer than half of the women in a health care setting report knowledge of fish consumption advisories. Fewer than 5% of women consumed fish above Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency advisory levels. Pregnant women report higher advisory awareness, but also higher fish avoidance, potentially missing beneficial aspects of fish consumption during pregnancy. Novel educational interventions targeting specific populations should be developed to encourage safe consumption of fish, especially in reproductive-age women.

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