iPhone app guides pregnant, nursing women on eating fish safely

August 6, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - An iPhone app from Purdue University can help women who are pregnant or nursing safely eat seafood, a good source of nutrients for babies but also the subject of concern about ingesting mercury and other contaminants.

 The updated, free app - Fish4Health - helps women track their intake of seafood, fish oil supplements, healthy fats and mercury. Based on the latest research, the app also contains information on fish species from across the country. The app is available in English, Spanish and traditional or simplified Chinese.

"Pregnant or nursing women should consume eight to 12 ounces of fish per week," said Charles Santerre, professor of food toxicology and Purdue Extension specialist in the Department of Nutrition Science.

Santerre created the app, which is available at iTunes and Purdue Extension's The Education Store (search for "Fish4Health").

Also available online is an updated wallet card, with information about which commercial fish species are best to eat when women are expecting or nursing a baby. Recommendations on how much to eat are based on tests in Santerre's lab for amounts of healthy fats, trace elements and heavy metals such as mercury.

"Some of the best fish choices are salmon, rainbow trout, whitefish, herring and sardines," Santerre said. "That's because they are highest in healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, and lowest in mercury content."

He said babies are the most vulnerable to mercury contamination.

Health departments in Indiana and Florida distribute the wallet card. The app and card are part of an educational effort funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The information helps women follow the U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the revised Food and Drug Administration fish consumption advisory. Additional information online covers recommendations on fish that may be caught across the United States.

The app was awarded the 2011 Babble Award for top 25 pregnancy apps. The wallet card was highlighted in a CDC produced YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watHHS-ch?v=LGGF8U3J3Dk.

More information about the app and wallet card is available on the Fish4Health website at www.fish4health.net.

Source: Charles Santerre, 765-496-3443, santerre@purdue.edu 

Writer: Beth Forbes, 765-494-8403, forbes@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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