Pregnancy and you blog

Seafood during pregnancy: Understanding the new advice

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. June 24, 2014

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the pregnant women were confused. They were craving tuna salad, grilled shrimp and a nice filet of salmon. And they thought the omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood were supposed to be good for their health.

But they had read of concerns about mercury levels and had been told by their health care providers to limit the amount of seafood they ate while pregnant. What should they do?

For some, the solution was to avoid all seafood. Other women ate an occasional serving. The rest ate what seemed right to them.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft of updated advice on eating seafood. The draft recommends that women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, women who might become pregnant and young children eat more seafood that is lower in mercury to gain important health and developmental benefits.

Now, instead of focusing on limiting the amount of seafood you eat each week, the draft recommends that you aim to eat at least 8 ounces (227 grams) and up to 12 ounces (340 grams) a week of a variety of seafood that is lower in mercury. Seafood that is lower in mercury includes shrimp, pollock, salmon, tilapia, catfish and cod.

Some precautions are still necessary. For example, continue limiting albacore tuna and tuna steaks to no more than 6 ounces (170 grams) a week. Also, continue to avoid four types of fish associated with higher mercury levels, including tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel.

While the draft recommendations aren't final yet, it seems that fish can and should be a part of your well-rounded diet during pregnancy. The fish-craving pregnant women might get their happy ending after all.

June 24, 2014