Eating Fish While Pregnant Shown to be Beneficial

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • Pregnancy Tracker: 26 weeks, 2 days

    Size of the Baby: 2 whole pounds!

    Biggest Obstacle: Making sense of conflicting pregnancy information.


    We've probably all heard the advice that pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid eating too much seafood because of the threat of mercury toxicity. Personally, I love seafood and typically ate 2 to 3 servings a week before conceiving. The main piece of information I took from fish warnings was to avoid certain types of fish, those that contain higher levels of mercury such as swordfish, sea bass, and halibut. I've continued to eat salmon a little less than once a week and canned tuna occasionally.

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    Just yesterday, I made two decisions based on my understanding of the danger of fish for pregnant women. First, when choosing a dinner entrée for my office party in November, I picked chicken instead of the other option, sea bass. Then, at dinner for my husband's birthday, I reviewed the fish options and steered away from the Chilean sea bass and pistachio encrusted halibut.


    Today, my husband forwarded me a link to an article that casts doubt on my decision-making process about seafood. Today's Washington Post article "Mothers Again Urged to Eat Fish" reported that a group of private physicians, in coalition with the American Academy of Pediatrics, March of Dimes, and various federal agencies, planned to declare a public advisory for pregnant and breast-feeding women to consume at least 12 ounces of seafood per week. Their recommendation stands in opposition to the advice of the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency that have told pregnant and lactating women to limit their seafood consumption to less than 12 ounces per week and to avoid certain types of fish all together.


    The article illuminates why this group of physicians, operating as the nonprofit National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, felt compelled to publicly challenge the FDA and EPA recommendations. Basically, the health benefits of seafood for both mother and developing babies far outweigh the potential threat of mercury toxicity, according to the article.


    Doctors noted that fish intake during pregnancy has never been linked to mercury toxicity in newborns. On the other hand, the healthful benefits of seafood are well documented. Omega-3 fatty acids and DHA are both considered vital to the developing brains and nervous systems of fetuses and infants. Since fish is our major dietary source for these nutrients, pregnant women need to be sure to consume their recommended total.


    Because of previous recommendations to pregnant women to avoid eating too much fish, many women have not received enough Omega-3 fatty acids and DHA during their pregnancy. According to some studies, issues such as lower I.Q. scores for middle-aged children, early delivery, low birth weight and higher instances of postpartum depression have resulted from a lack of seafood consumption.


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    For myself, I tend to believe the research and recommendation from doctors a bit more than the advice of large bureaucratic bodies, which, though well intentioned, may be overly cautious about the potential threat versus the healthful benefits of fish.


    I realize that I have been avoiding seafood in some instances, and definitely not consuming as much as I did prior to pregnancy. I may still refrain from eating fish that are particularly high in mercury, since honestly I didn't eat those types of fish previously anyway. However, salmon and tuna will return more prominently to my diet. I want my child to benefit from the brain boost of seafood.


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Published On: October 05, 2007