The Facts on Fish In Pregnancy

February 28, 2017

 

You likely know by now just how good it is for your health to include fish in your diet regularly. However, most women also know that eating fish can be a danger during pregnancy. Therefore, many expectant mamas are left wondering whether or not they should continue to consume seafood throughout their pregnancy.

 

The short answer is yes, you should continue to eat fish and other types of seafood while pregnant. These foods contain a wide variety of important nutrients, including Omega-3s (also known as DHA) that contribute to the brain health of your little one. Fish is one of the very best sources of this nutrient, so it’s ideal that you continue to consume seafood regularly.

 

The trick to avoiding issues with any fish you consume during pregnancy is to eat smart. Choosing the right kinds of fish will keep your unborn child safe and sound while still allowing them to benefit from the nutrients fish can provide.

 

In this article we will explore the toxins often found in fish. We will also discuss how to avoid these toxins by choosing and cooking fish carefully.

 

Mercury — A toxic metal that is frequently found in fish, mercury is the most common (as well as the most commonly discussed) threat found in fish. Thankfully, the levels of mercury in ocean life have recently been found to be decreasing. However, the toxin is still a real threat to unborn babies with the potential to cause damage to the brain and nervous system.

 

Therefore, it is best to avoid those fish that tend to carry large amounts of mercury. These include:

  • Swordfish

  • Kingfish

  • Mackerel

  • Shark


PCBs — Often used in products such as adhesives, paints, and plastics, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of man-made chemicals. Although production of PCBs has been banned in the US since 1979, these chemicals can still be found in a variety of products that were manufactured before this date. Additionally, PCBs are still found in polluted waters, leading to an issue with contaminated fish.

 

Because these chemicals can affect the brain development of unborn babies, it is important to avoid them. Therefore, if you are looking for some fish to cook for dinner, you’ll want to try to steer clear of these common PCB carriers:

 

  • Atlantic salmon

  • Farmed salmon

  • Bluefish

  • Wild striped bass

  • White croaker

  • Atlantic croaker

  • Blackback flounder

  • Winter flounder

  • Summer flounder

  • Blue crab

 

DDT — Linked to a variety of health issues concerning the liver, nervous system, reproductive system, and brain, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (also known as DDT) is an insecticide that was once widely used. Fortunately, the chemical was banned in the United States in 1972.

 

Unfortunately, it is a long-lasting substance and can be found in our waters even now, over forty years later. Of course, this means that many fish are carrying the chemical, making it crucial that you carefully consider a fish before eating it when pregnant.

 

Fish that tend to carry DDT are as follows:

  • Bluefish

  • Wild striped bass

  • American eel

  • Atlantic salmon


So what can you do to protect your little one from these harmful toxins? Well, by avoiding the fish listed above and following the tips below, you can rest assured that your risk of consuming dangerous levels of any of these toxins is virtually zero:

  • Remove skin and trim fat before cooking.

  • Cook in such a way that allows fat to drip away from the fish. Avoid frying.

  • Follow local fish advisories.

  • Skip raw fish in dishes such as sushi.
     

There you have it. Clearly, fish is in an important part of a prenatal diet. By being selective about which fish you eat and how you choose to cook them, you can continue to enjoy these tasty and nutrient-dense foods without fear.

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