Yes, American children are eating relatively little fish and shellfish in comparison to meat, according to this report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report explores both the health benefits and the risks associated with eating seafood while informing parents of the safest and most sustainable choices for their children.
Seafood is a great source of protein, which helps the body repair and make new cells. This is especially important during childhood and adolescence, when a child is growing a lot. Protein also helps a child’s body produce antibodies that help battle infections. Children would be much more susceptible to serious diseases without essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
Hence, the AAP reminds that fish and shellfish are protein-rich foods that come without saturated fat or sugar. Also, these foods are high in calcium and vitamin D and are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which benefit brain and eye development. According to the AAP, "studies suggest seafood consumption may improve infant neurodevelopment and decrease cardiovascular disease risk. A growing body of research show that introducing fish early in a child’s diet may even help prevent allergic disease such as asthma and eczema."
According to the report, seafood consumption has been on the decline among U.S. kids since 2007. This could be due to concerns about mercury that fish can absorb from polluted water. However, the AAP explains that there are ways to minimize or avoid these risks. The FDA and EPA suggests that children eat one to two weekly servings of “best” and “good” choices of fish, including clams, flounder, Chilean sea bass and more.
“For most types of seafood, the nutritional benefits far outweigh the risks,” said the report’s lead author Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH, FAAP, an executive committee member of the AAP Council on Environmental Health.
"Buy different fish, try different fish, and rotate them; that's the healthiest way to eat them," Maria Romo-Palafox, a registered dietician and postdoctoral fellow with the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, told CNN. She added that when kids see their parents try a food, they will be curious about it and want to try it too.