Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Consumer Reports published a special report today saying that women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid eating all forms of tuna due a high potential for mercury exposure.
These remarks come after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a combined statement in June suggesting that pregnant women eat between 8 and 12 ounces (that’s 2 to 3 servings) of fish per week.
This was the first time either organization had ever recommended a minimum amount of fish that should be consumed, LA Weekly reported, though they have made maximum consumption directives in the past. Their guidelines cited important nutritional benefits that can come from eating fish such as improving growth and development before birth and during infancy.
While the FDA and EPA recommendations do say that pregnant women should monitor the types of fish they’re eating to limit mercury exposure, Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, told The Washington Post simply, “We encourage pregnant women to avoid all tuna.” Mercury exposure before birth can result in neurological disorders and impair development of a baby’s brain and nervous system, among other potential risks, the EPA states.
Not surprisingly, the National Fisheries Institute took issue with CR’s conclusions. In a statement, it said: “Though we urged CR to do a thorough, balanced and science-based job, that obviously did not happen. Minimal research would have presented reporters literally hundreds of independent seafood studies from the FDA to the World Health Organization that clearly demonstrate the net benefit gained from eating seafood, like tuna.”
Confused now? If you’re pregnant, ask your healthcare provider about what’s best for you and your baby. And read about these five simple ways to eat healthier during your pregnancy.
Photo of tuna courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Parents News Now, Pregnancy
Friday, October 18th, 2013
A diet heavy in bacon and other processed meats may raise a man’s risk of having poor sperm and semen quality, whereas a diet rich in fish could boost male fertility, according to a new study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. More from CNN:
Myriam Afeiche, research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and her colleagues looked at how types of meat could be associated with semen quality. They took samples from 156 men at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center in Boston and had the men answer a questionnaire about their eating habits.
What does semen have to look like to be considered high-quality? The researchers considered four main parameters:
The concentration of sperm is one part of it. So is motility, or how fast the sperm move. The shape of the sperm also matters, as does the total sperm count – that’s the concentration multiplied by volume.
The researchers did not look at individual kinds of processed meat, so this study won’t tell you if bacon could be more sperm-stunting than hamburgers, or vice versa. But higher intake of processed meat appeared to be related to a lower percent of “morphologically normal” – or well-shaped – sperm.
Regarding fish, it seemed that men who ate more dark meat fish – such as salmon, bluefish and tuna – had higher total sperm count; more white meat fish – such as cod and halibut – was associated with normally-shaped sperm.
The researchers only looked at associations, not causes. It is unclear whether processed meat actually causes changes in sperm, or if it does, how that would happen. It’s possible men who eat more processed meat have an unhealthier diet overall, which could affect their semen. Same goes for fish intake and sperm; researchers don’t know what about fish may benefit the littler swimmers.
“There might be something else going on, but we’re not sure what it is,” Afeiche said.
Trying to get pregnant? Find out if you are maximizing your fertility, or predict your due date.
Image: Bacon, via Shutterstock
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Must Read, New Research, Pregnancy
Thursday, November 15th, 2012
Babies who eat fish between turning six months old and their first birthdays may have a lower risk of developing asthma later in life than babies who eat fish earlier than six months of age, or after age 1, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. Reuters has more:
“A window of exposure between the age of 6 and 12 months might exist in which fish might be associated with a reduced risk of asthma.”
Concern over seafood allergies prompts some parents and doctors to delay introducing fish into babies’ diets. However, some research has found that a mother’s fish consumption during pregnancy, or the baby’s consumption of it early on, may lower the risk of asthma.
Using health and diet information from a group of 7,210 children born between 2002 and 2006 in Rotterdam, the researchers found that 1,281 children ate fish in their first six months of life, 5,498 first ate fish in the next six months, and 431 did not eat fish until after age one.
The researchers then looked at health records for when the children were about four years old, and how many parents reported that their children were wheezing or short of breath.
Between 40 percent and 45 percent of parents of children who did not eat fish until after their first birthdays said their children wheezed, compared to 30 percent of children who first ate fish when they were between six and 12 months old.
That, the researchers said, works out to about a 36 percent decreased risk of wheezing for the children who first had fish between the ages of six months and one year.
Image: Child’s serving of fish, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, October 11th, 2012
The levels of mercury in a pregnant woman’s bloodstream has been linked to a higher risk of her child being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by a new study conducted by researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health. The Boston Globe reports that children whose mothers tested high for mercury were 40-70 percent more likely to exhibit ADHD symptoms by age eight:
On the flip side, those children whose mothers consumed the most fish while pregnant were the least likely to exhibit fidgety, distracted, and impulsive behaviors in class, according to the study of 604 children published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
At first blush, this finding appears contradictory because most of the mercury we consume comes from fish. “It seems a little paradoxical,” said study co-author Dr. Susan Korrick, an assistant professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s. “But fish consumption doesn’t necessarily correlate with mercury levels since you could eat a high amount of fish that are low in mercury.”
Fatty kinds of fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to be crucial for cognitive function. All types of fish have a host of nutrients such as vitamin D, B-12, and iodine, which could play a role in brain development as well.
While government agencies have advised pregnant women to limit their fish intake to no more than two six-ounce servings a week, Korrick said they might want to aim for three or four servings of low-mercury fish such as salmon, canned light tuna, haddock, cod, and shrimp. (Albacore tuna has more mercury, so consumption should be limited to six ounces a week.)
The key is for pregnant women to avoid fish known to have high mercury levels, including swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel, Korrick added.
Image: Salmon, via Shutterstock
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