It’s not a question of whether or not to include fish in your pregnancy diet, but more a question of which types of fish and how much to eat. Fish has some very compelling benefits and risks to consider for your developing child:
- Benefit: Beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, found in some types of cold salt-water fish, can boost baby’s brain development.
- Risk: Harmful mercury, a pollutant found in some fish, has been linked to developmental delays and brain damage.
Ensure your pregnancy diet is safe by following these three simple tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Association:
1. Enjoy at least 12 ounces of fish per week, but be sure to choose from those low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines and canned light tuna.
2. Avoid entirely shark, swordfish, mackerel and tilefish, since these tend to be highest in mercury.
3. Avoid fresh smoked seafood, raw shellfish and any fish from contaminated lakes or rivers completely. Fresh smoked seafood and raw shellfish may contain dangerous types of food poisoning (cooked, shelf-stable or canned smoked seafood is safe). Check with your local health department for the safety of fish from lakes and rivers.