Should Pregnant Women Be Eating More Fish?

Photo of eating fish during pregnancy LocateADocFollowing dietary restrictions and recommendations during pregnancy can sometimes feel like running through a nutritional obstacle course. Make sure to get enough of this; moderate your intake of that; avoid these at all costs! It can be difficult to keep up with evolving guidelines in food safety and obstetrics.

Now the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency have released a consumer update that amends the amount of fish pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children should eat, changing the advised amount from “up to 12 ounces” to “at least eight and up to 12 ounces.”

The FDA report emphasizes how important the nutrients contained in fish, especially omega-3 fatty acids, can be to fetal and early childhood development. The agencies hope that adding a recommended minimum for the consumption of certain fish will encourage women to eat more low-mercury seafood during pregnancy and reap the benefits of these vitamins and minerals.

Some environmental and consumer health groups are taking issue with the updates to the guidelines. Not all types of fish have significant levels of the prized omega-3 fats. These advocates claim that the FDA should be more specific in directing pregnant women towards certain types of fish, such as salmon, that have sufficient omega-3 content with the lowest levels of mercury.

Expectant mothers trying to stay abreast of these changes should note that this update is “draft advice” and liable to modification. While it is definitely beneficial to keep yourself informed of current recommendations in obstetrics, remember to always consult your obstetrician before making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.

To find an obstetrician in your area to ask specific questions, use our LocateADoc feature. Alternatively, if you have a specific question, you can ask in our Ask A Doc section.

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