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Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

How much fish should I eat when I'm pregnant? Should I be worried about mercury?

Re: How much fish should I eat when I'm pregnant? Should I be worried about mercury?

The Bump Expert

For years, the FDA has warned that pregnant women should limit intake of fish to 12 ounces per week, in an attempt to limit exposure to mercury. But are these concerns unfounded (and maybe even unhealthy)?

A large coalition of scientists, medical organizations, and doctors (including our own expert, Dr. Ashley Roman) is now urging women to eat at least the FDA's recommended amount, if not more. They say that the Omega-3s in fish are especially important for the second-half of pregnancy, when baby's nervous system is developing, and that women should be urged to eat more fish.

The FDA isn't currently prepared to revise its recommendation (but they do plan to study the new information).

So what's a pregnant lady to do? Talk to your doctor, and check out the info we found below to help with your decision:


According to our expert, Dr. Ashley Roman: "To date, there is not a single case of fetal toxicity linked directly to fish intake..." (You can watch Dr. Roman's full interview on the subject on MSNBC.com.)

The FDA says:
> "...high levels of mercury in the bloodstream of unborn babies and young children may harm the developing nervous system."
> "Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury."

> "Eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury."

> "Fish and shellfish contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children's proper growth and development."

The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition says:
> "Recent studies indicate that the nutritional benefits of fish consumption during pregnancy greatly outweigh potential risks from trace methyl mercury consumption."
> "Oily ocean fish are...an important source of the mineral selenium, which is essential for thyroid function and anti-oxidation. There is a growing body of evidence that selenium in ocean fish may also counteract potential negative influence of mercury exposure. While a nutritional deficiency from insufficient seafood consumption (long-chain omega-3 fatty acids) is quite common, the risk of mercury toxicity is exceedingly rare."

A study at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2007 found that:
> The FDA warning has led 56% of pregnant women to cut too much fish from their diet.


A British study published early in 2007 in The Lancet indicates that:
>
Women who eat more fish while pregnant may bear children with higher IQs.
**Also important to note: Different fish have different levels of mercury: Check out this chart

Dr. Ashley Roman

re: Q: Should I eat MORE fish?

I agree with the study. When I had my son they told us to eat more fish because of the benefits for the developing brain. I ate tuna fish on wheat everyday for lunch in my second and third trimesters, yuck. I was so sick of tuna that I didn't touch it for a year after my son was born. But my son was completely healthy and he is extremely intelligent. My family jokes that it was the tuna that did it.

tyedman |

re: Q: Should I eat MORE fish?

I keep telling people about these new studies. It drives me nuts to see them not getting the nutrients they need. My grandmother in Japan tells me that the women only cut out the fish with high levels of mercury. Seafood is such a huge part of the lifestyle, it's impossible to cut out entirely. I won't stop eating my fish for the usually wrong FDA.

KimiCas |

re: Q: Should I eat MORE fish?

I also agree with the study. Don't stop eating fish!! It's SO healthy for you! If you check out the chart above it shows you just how many fish are low in mercury. The positive benefits from adding fish to your diet far outweigh the negative imo. I will not stop enjoying fish as it's a large part of my diet but I will stay away from any fish high in mercury.

pixigirl07 |

re: Q: Should I eat MORE fish?

Tuna & salmon are especially good to eat during pregnancy because of the omega 3's. It's best to buy wild caught salmon (less mercury), and to buy the regular canned tuna. Albacore tuna has way more mercury and is not recommended for pregnant women.

lovebug_kelli |

re: Q: Should I eat MORE fish?

I eat fish probably two or three times a week now and before I might have a serving once a month...another one of my cravings. weird I know

Ftr Mrs. Leonard |

re: Q: Should I eat MORE fish?

Yes, making fish part of you diet is very important, weather you are pregnant or not. However, the FDA's recently revised advice is highly critisized by the EPA as not of high scientific quiality. As someone who deals with this issue every day, I would encourage everyone to continue to follow the joint adivce origionally issued by FDA & EPA, http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/. Eat Fish! Choose the fish you eat wisely, based upon location caught and size. If the fish is caught localy by freinds or family, consult your local advisory. When eating canned tuna, choose chunk light over albacore due to mercury.

bwmurphy99 |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

As a biologist, I have to remind everyone that eating fish does not mean eating fish that is necessarliy "high " in the food web (that's how they get all those heavy metals in the first place). Try sardines and mackerel (if you eat them whole in a can you also get the bones- extra calcium!). They are both very high in Omega 3 and low in the food web, thus low in the heavy metals. Tuna is NOT a good option! If you can't stand the strong taste of mackerel and sardines, try salmon, it's marginally better than tuna and other large predators. As for the EPA criticzing the FDA?S study as unscientific, that's hog wash! The FDA is ALWAYS more conservative and protective of our health than EPA in their guidelines. If FDA says it's dangerous and then EPA says it isn't, you should probably be safe and follow FDA guidelines. These are very serious issues for baby's health after all! And the EPA is infamous for whitewashing environmental issues to save face adn please lobbies (such as fishermen...) Trust me, I've worked a lot with them!

Tanager |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

What about Tilapia?

shyderi |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

What about crawfish? It's almost boiling season in LA, and I don't know if I can miss that!

MetryJen |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

crawfish and tilapia are both in the chart in the link above. "Check out this chart" at the very end of the article.

nbrancha |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

is albacore safe?

Dannyswifey10 |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

Is taking a DHA supplement equivalent to eating fish?

claudineelise |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

***Tongol Tuna is a great option for those who love tuna. The canned variety is classified as "chunk" only because Tongol is a smaller fish. It looks like solid albacore when you open the can (it's white), and is better for you because it contains less mercury than albacore. (Larger fish, like albacore, tend to hold on to and are exposed to mercury in the water longer than their smaller counterparts.)*** ***Salmon - choose wild caught, fresh Salmon. Wild Alaskan is a great choice. Wild caught fish, in general, are exposed to less toxins and pollution than farm raised fish and even Atlantic Salmon. Wild varieties also have much higher rates of Omega 3's. ***

CutieKenge |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

My Doctor has me taking Fish Oil supplements because I am not a big fish eater

Pinkgirl13 |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

I take flax oil and I am also taking a prenatal DHA supplement that is derived from algae instead of fish. Supposedly the reason fish have the DHA is from eating the algae, so I am just taking out the middle man (or fish as the case may be :-) I HATE fish and if I had a fishy burp from fish oil, it would be all over...literally! BLECH! Plus I avoid all the contaminants fish can carry. The one I take is made by Spectrum in case anyone is interested... http://www.spectrumorganics.com/?id=283

tracychristine |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

How much fish can i eat now that i am pregnan?

Moon2001 |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

I am confused about several reseach I have done on eating seafood. What are the kinds of seagood we can not eat.

kimora14 |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

Does anyone know if Walnuts are a good subsitutue for fish? I've been eating them instead since I don't care for fish. Thanks!

sgust1979 |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

All the culinary schools have special classes for this situation, I mean for pregnant women, what to eat and not to eat during pregnancy. I attended one class and I had so much to learn from that master chef. I can not wait to remain pregnant to apply those lessons. And it's true, a pregnant woman should eat every day fish.

marta8080 |

Q&A: Eat more fish during pregnancy?

I do not eat fish on a regular but since pregnant I've tried to increase that, however I end up eating only 1-2 meals a week (mainly salmon). So my Dr. recommended an additional fish oil supplement which I take along with my prenatal every morning. I find if I eat breakfast right after I take the vitamin I don't get the "fish taste" when I burp. lol

Pumpkinmami |