In a reversal of its recommendations that have for years cautioned against children and pregnant or breastfeeding women eating fish, the Food and Drug Administration’s new guidelines reflect recognition that fish is a great source of protein and other essential nutrients. For the first time, the FDA has specified a minimum intake of fish and other seafood.
That’s the new minimum recommendation for a healthy diet. Beginnings Pregnancy Guide (2014) recommends 1 or 2 servings per week, the previous maximum recommendation, now considered overly cautious.
The warning to avoid large, long-lived fish like swordfish, mackerel and tile fish remains. Those big fish live long enough to build up organic mercury in their flesh. According to MedlinePlus, medical evidence suggests that being exposed to large amounts of the organic mercury called methylmercury while pregnant can permanently damage the baby’s developing brain. Small exposures are unlikely to cause any problems.
Choose canned light tuna
Salmon, shrimp. and other seafood that Beginnings lists as safe and healthy, are still safe and healthy. It is important to caution mothers against canned white albacore tuna since it has three times the mercury of the recommended canned light tuna. The FDA suggests limiting tuna to 6 ounces a week.
Beginnings Pregnancy Guide (2014) pg. 13
Use the Fish Safety Hotline
Call 1-888-SAFEFOOD That’s 1-888-723-3366 to check the safety of fish in your area. This free 24 hour resource is listed on the Pregnancy Guide’s Key Messages Poster and on page 42.