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| ||Fish has many nutritional benefits and is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. When choosing fish, the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Agriculture advise pregnant and nursing mothers to be cautious and avoid fish high in mercury. Methyl mercury can cause damage to the brain, nervous system, and possibly the heart of unborn babies and infants. |
During pregnancy and while nursing, avoid these high mercury fish:
- King mackerel
- Salmon (Canned)
- Clam Shrimp
- Salmon (Fresh/Frozen)
- Shad American
- Mackerel Atlantic (N.Atlantic)
- Haddock (Atlantic)
- Flatfish 2
- Crab 1
- Croaker Atlantic (Atlantic)
- Trout (Freshwater)
- Mackerel Chub (Pacific)
- Lobster (Spiny)
- Perch Ocean
- Tuna (Canned, Light)
Albacore tuna and tuna steak have higher mercury levels than canned light tuna and consumption should be limited to 6 ounces or less per week.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends a more conservative fish intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The EWG suggests to:
- Avoid the following fish altogether: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, tuna steaks, canned tuna, sea bass, Gulf Coast oysters, marlin, halibut, pike, walleye, white croaker, largemouth bass.
- Eat only one serving a month of any of the following: Mahi mahi, Blue mussel, Eastern oyster, Cod, Pollock, Great Lakes salmon, Gulf Coast blue crab, Channel catfish (wild), Lake whitefish.
- Encourage the following fish since they are the lowest in mercury and therefore the safest for pregnant and nursing women: Blue crab (mid-Atlantic), Croaker Fish Sticks Flounder (summer), Haddock, Trout (farmed), Salmon (wild Pacific), Shrimp
Read the Environmental Working Group's Brain Food for more information on fish and fish safety.
Learn about potential fish advisories in your state here.
Food and Drug Administration (2004). 2004 EPA and FDA Advice For: Women Who Might Become Pregnant Women Who are Pregnant Nursing Mothers Young Children
Food and Drug Administration. Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2010)
Houlihan, J & Wiles, R (2001). Brain Food: Government Seafood Consumption Advice Could Expose 1 In 4 Newborns to Elevated Mercury Levels.
Texas Department of State Health Services Nutritional Services and Texas Association of Local WIC Directors. Principles of Lactation Management. Attended May 2010.
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Author : Diba Tillery RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST