The association between seafood intake and fecundability: Analysis from two prospective studies

Lauren A. Wise*, Sydney K. Willis, Ellen M. Mikkelsen, Amelia K. Wesselink, Henrik Toft Sørensen, Kenneth J. Rothman, Katherine L. Tucker, Ellen Trolle, Marco Vinceti, Elizabeth E. Hatch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Background: Seafood is an important source of omega‐3 fatty acids, which have been associated with improved oocyte quality and embryo morphology in some studies. However, seafood is also a source of persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals, which may adversely affect fecundity. Previous studies of seafood intake and fecundity have generated inconsistent results. Methods: In two prospective cohort studies of 7836 female pregnancy planners from Denmark (Snart Foraeldre, n = 2709) and North America (PRESTO, n = 5127), we evaluated the association of dietary intake of total seafood and marine‐sourced long‐chain omega‐3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and docosapentaenoic acid) with fecundability. Participants completed a baseline questionnaire on sociodemographics, behavioral factors, anthropometrics, and medical history, and a food frequency questionnaire. Pregnancy status was updated bimonthly for up to 12 months or until reported conception. We estimated fecundability ratios (FRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using proportional probabilities regression models, adjusted for energy intake and other potential confounders. We restricted analyses to women with ≤6 menstrual cycles of attempt time at enrollment. Results: Intake of total seafood or marine‐sourced long‐chain omega‐3 fatty acids was not appreciably associated with fecundability in either cohort (≥200 vs. <50 g/week total seafood: FR = 0.94, 95% CI: 0.79–1.10 in Snart Foraeldre; FR = 1.00, 95% CI: 0.90–1.13 in PRESTO; marine fatty acids: ≥90th vs. <25th percentile: FR = 1.00, 95% CI: 0.85–1.18 in Snart Foraeldre; FR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.86–1.09 in PRESTO). In PRESTO, where we collected additional data on seafood preparation, we observed an inverse association between fecundability and fried shellfish (≥10 g/week vs. none: FR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.61–0.98), but not unfried shellfish (≥20 g/week vs. none: FR = 0.98, 95% CI: 0.89–1.07); in Snart Foraeldre, there was no association with total shellfish intake. Conclusions: We found little association between seafood intake and fecundability overall, but greater intake of fried shellfish was associated with reduced fecundability among North American participants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2276
Issue number8
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Epidemiology
  • Fatty acids
  • Fertility
  • Fish
  • Internet
  • Prospective studies
  • Seafood


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