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Pregnancy and Fish: Scientific Facts


Pregnant women should eat omega-3 fat in fish to nourish fetal brains. Yet some fish are high in methylmercury, PCBs and dioxins — toxins that harm developing nervous systems.

Here is the current advice for women who are pregnant or might become pregnant, as well as nursing mothers and young children.

  • Don’t eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Don’t eat any fish skin, a prime repository of toxins.
  • Cut back on tuna: no more than 6 ounces of canned albacore (white) tuna a week, and no more than 12 ounces weekly of “light” tuna, says the FDA. Consumers Union advises only 3 ounces of albacore weekly for women and none for children.
  • Do eat high omega-3 sardines and salmon (choose wild salmon; almost all canned salmon is wild). Farmed salmon is a bit higher in PCBs; no salmon tested high in mercury. Also safe, but with less omega-3 fat: flounder, sole, tilapia, catfish, shellfish.

Pregnant women should ask their doctors about omega-3 supplements.

This EatSmart column is reprinted from USAWEEKEND Magazine and is copyrighted by Jean Carper. It cannot be reprinted without permission from Jean Carper.

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One response to “Pregnancy and Fish: Scientific Facts”

  1. […] eat salmon and cannot be absolutely sure that it is wild-caught, restrict it to one time per month. Pregnant women need to be even more careful about consuming farm-raised salmon because the effects of PCBs are more detrimental to a developing […]