Pregnant women advised not to eat certain types of fish

January 23, 2001 in Healthy Eating, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Pregnant women advised not to eat certain types of fish

Pregnant women should not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish, because these fish may contain enough methyl mercury to damage the fetus's nervous system, the US Food and Drug Administration said last Friday. Young children, nursing mothers and women who may become pregnant should avoid these types of seafood as well.

Nearly all fish contain trace amounts of methyl mercury, but longer-living, larger fish that feed on other fish, such as shark or swordfish, accumulate the highest amounts and pose the largest threat to people who eat them regularly.

In a related announcement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that pregnant women, women who might become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children should eat only one meal per week of freshwater fish caught by family members or friends. The agency said that a meal for adults should be 6 ounces of cooked fish and for children, 2 ounces.

Health Canada advises women and children to limit their intake of these kinds of fish to once a month. Other people should not eat these types of fish more than once a week. The fish in question are shark, swordfish and certain species of very large tuna used for tuna steaks and sushi. Caned tuna is composed of smaller species of tuna and dose not pose a risk.

If you want to increase you intake of fish, work a variety of fish into your diet.

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