Saturday, October 13, 2007

Should You Eat Fish When Pregnant?

news you may not knowTasty - But, Should You?

Clarity is always welcome - especially when it comes to health advice from the experts.

But, the latest recommendation by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies coalition appears to fall short. The coalition, which includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institute on Child and Human Development, and the CDC, recommends that women who are pregnant eat 12 ounces or more of fatty fish each week.

Fatty fish, such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon, are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids carry many health benefits, including helping women avoid post-partum depression. They are also essential to the development of healthy brains and motor functions in babies.

So, the recommendation seems to make perfect sense. But...

It conflicts with earlier advisories by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the EPA against pregnant women consuming fish. The advisories warned of excessive levels of mercury, a toxic substance, and advised that women who were pregnant or breast-feeding eat no more than 12 ounces of fish per week. Hmm...

What should you do?

Well, first, stay calm. Yes, it's tempting to simply through one's hands into the air, abandon all thoughts of eating healthy, and head down to the local burger joint for a double-cheeseburger, onion rings, and chocolate shake, but...

A more reasonable approach may be to select those fish high in omega-3s with the lowest probability of mercury contamination. Or, if you prefer to get your food in a bottle, select omega-3 supplements that are certified to be free of mercury contamination (and cadmium, lead, PCB's...).

So, whether you get your fish from the brook or from the bottle, choose and eat wisely. Then, get busy - you have baby names to pick...

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about the coalition, see this from National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies. To find levels of both mercury and omega-3s in your favorite fish, see this from the American Heart Association.


Blogger onefishtwofish said...

It is irresponsible of this coalition to urge pregnant mothers to eat more fish than the FDA recommends without any advice to avoid high mercury fish. Decades of scientific research on the toxicity of methylmercury suggest that it harms healthy fetal development. According to, the National Fisheries Institute partially funded this latest campaign to urge expectant women to consume more fish and seafood.

I also learned from other news organizations that the March of Dimes still endorses the original FDA fish consumption guidelines for expectant mothers and the American Academy of Pediatrics disagrees with the so-called new advice. And most importantly, none of the federal agencies knew in advance about this “new advice” nor did they support it!

In fact, a few recent studies suggest that the benefits of fish consumption during pregnancy, such as improving infant gestation length and neurodevelopment, may be erased when the mother’s mercury levels are high.

Women of childbearing age need to select their fish wisely. The FDA advice should be posted at fish counters to help end this confusion. Here’s the website to an organization that is trying to get grocery stores to post this important advice.

8:56 AM  
Blogger tim said...


First, I love your name - very cool.

I can see you are both well informed and passionate about this issue. That's terrific. I'm glad you stumbled across my post, and appreciate you sharing the link.

Thanks again for the comments - have a great day,


9:12 AM  

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