Most seafood contains some amount of mercury. High amounts of mercury can affect the central nervous system, particularly the baby’s brain growth, therefore it is recommended to avoid high mercury containing foods.
Don’t avoid fish and shellfish though! Eating seafood in pregnancy can be safe and healthy. The FDA recommends that women who are pregnant should consume fish for proper infant development. Fish is a good source EPA and DHA, two important omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are good for the baby’s eye and brain development, also can decrease the baby’s chances of getting asthma and other allergic conditions. They can also lower your blood pressure and your risk of reduce heart disease. It is recommended for pregnant women to consume 200-300 mg of omega-3s a day. Seafood can also be high in protein and contain important vitamin and minerals such as B6, B12, iron, niacin, potassium, selenium, and thiamin.
It is important that pregnant women avoid all raw and undercooked seafood, eggs, and meat.
Eat 2-3 servings a week (8 to 12 ounces in total) of a variety of fish (see Figure 1 Best Choices);
- Eat only 1 serving a week (no more than 6 ounces) of some fish, such as albacore (white) tuna and fish with similar mercury concentrations to albacore (white) tuna (seeFigure 1 Good Choices);
- Avoid certain fish with the highest mercury concentrations (see Figure 1 Choices to Avoid); and
- Check for advisories for fish caught by family and friends and where no advisories exist, limit eating those fish to one serving a week and do not eat other fish that week.