Seafood and Pregnancy: What's Safe and What's Not

Fish and shellfish can be an important part of a balanced diet during pregnancy. They are a good source of high-quality protein, healthy omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients, and are low in saturated fat. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise women who may become pregnant, pregnant women and nursing mothers to eat the types and amounts of fish and shellfish that are safe. By doing so they will gain the positive benefits of eating fish, but prevent harm to the development of their baby.

Seafood Do's and Don'ts for Expecting and Nursing Moms:

1. DON'T eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.

2. DO eat up to 12 ounces (2 to 3 meals) of other purchased fish and shellfish a week. Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

3. DO mix up the types of fish and shellfish you eat.

4. DON'T eat the same type of fish or shellfish more than once a week.

5. DO check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local rivers and streams. If no advice is available, you can safely eat up to 6 ounces (one meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week.

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