Sushi: Is it safe during pregnancy?

Is it safe to eat sushi during pregnancy?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

The following answer was prepared by Kelly Williams, a senior dietetic student at the University of Vermont

It has been very difficult to find literature stating pregnant women are at greater risk of getting parasites or viruses from raw fish, but no, you should not eat sushi while pregnant.

First, as a pregnant woman, you are at a time where nutritional status is a critical component to your and your child's health. A parasite is an organism that lives off of its host. It will take nutrients at your expense. In fact, malnutrition is usually a problem with parasites. I believe it would be magnified many times in a pregnant woman. The more nutrients go to the parasite the fewer are going to you and your baby. You really don't have much to spare. Just for your information, the fish most likely to be infested with parasites are cod, Pacific salmon and Pacific rockfish. In the fishing and food industries, many precautions are taken to prevent infected fish from getting into our food supply, but that is not a 100 percent guarantee.

Second, pregnant women and infants are high risk groups in regard to a pathogenic organism called Listeria monocytogenes. This is also found in raw fish, along with many cheeses, especially soft cheeses, such as Brie. Actually, in a food safety book I have, it states that a sample of Listeria monocytogenes was found in cheddar cheese even though it already had been aged for about two months! This may be attributed to the fact that the organism can survive the pasteurization process.

This may sound like scary information, but please don't be afraid. I would advise that you avoid sushi and soft cheeses (make sure you are still getting enough calcium), cook all your meats thoroughly and wash all your fruits and vegetables. This will greatly reduce your risk of contracting any micro-organims.

Good luck and take care.

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