Update: Eating Seafood During Pregnancy
February 15, 2017
Updated guidelines may mean more safe options for seafood during pregnancy
Recent reviews of data by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have generated new recommendations about the type and amount of fish that is safe to eat during pregnancy.
Historically, fish consumption has been limited in pregnancy because of concerns about exposure to mercury
from fish in developing pregnancies. However, we now know more about the types of fish with higher mercury levels. We also know that seafood has important nutrients that facilitate brain development in utero.
Here are the basics for women who are considering pregnancy, are currently pregnant, or who are breastfeeding:
- Fish types known to have high amounts of mercury should be avoided (e.g., King mackerel, swordfish)
- Fish types known to have some amount of mercury are okay to have once a week (e.g., tuna – canned or fresh, snapper, halibut)
- Many types of fish have little mercury, and can be eaten 2-3 times a week (e.g., catfish, cod, crab, lobster, salmon, tilapia)
A helpful summary table from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is available online.
Remember that a serving of fish or shellfish for one adult is 4 ounces. Unfortunately, raw or undercooked seafood should still stay off of the plate. Save the sushi for later! And as always, ask your women’s health care provider for more information.
Priya Batra is a UCR Women’s Health physician who specializes in OB/GYN. View Dr. Priya Batra's profile to learn more.