Can I eat fish?
Common questions asked by pregnant patients about eating seafood.
Most peoples initial impression after a quick Google search is that all seafood and fish are harmful when consumed during pregnancy and must be avoided.
This is most certainly not true. Fish can be a great choice for a healthy diet in pregnancy. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not eliminate fish from their diet if it is something they enjoy and consume regularly. Seafood offers many important minerals, including zinc, magnesium, and potassium. In addition, it is an excellent source of protein, low in fat and cholesterol and offers a good natural source of DHEA that contributes to healthy brain development of your baby. Always make sure that any raw seafood has been properly handled and cooked as the biggest danger is exposure to a bacteria called Listeria that may have harmful effects on a pregnancy. Sushi is a great example. The fish is healthy for you, but who knows if those handling it washed their hands. Raw fish is best avoided.
Seafood in pregnancy is backed up by research
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) agrees with the advice of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This information applies to all women who may become pregnant, currently pregnant or breastfeeding. Most patients will be happy to know these recommendations include canned tuna as a regular part of the diet. Recommendations include the following:
- 2–3 servings of fish per week that include a wide variety as those illustrated below.
- Limit some types of tuna, including albacore, or others similar in mercury content, to only 1 serving per week.
- Avoid the few certain fish with the highest mercury content, such as swordfish or marlin. If you do consume these, no need to worry; a few times is not harmful. The recommendation to educate people who eat large amounts of these fish on a regular basis to avoid the cumulative effects.
- Also, avoid any fish caught by friends or family from unknown sources