Chemical Exposure During Pregnancy

Fish and Mercury

You may think of fish as a healthy, low-fat, high-protein food choice. But when it comes to mercury exposure, fish are a common culprit. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises pregnant women to abstain from eating fish that have high mercury levels, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. New moms who are breastfeeding should also beware, since these fish can contain enough mercury to harm your baby's developing nervous system and motor skills.

The FDA and the EPA advise pregnant women to limit their consumption of tuna. Mercury levels in this fish can vary, with fresh tuna and canned albacore (white tuna) generally containing higher amounts than canned light tuna. So consume 6 ounces or less per week. To protect yourself while still enjoying all of the health benefits of fish, limit your total fish consumption to 12 ounces a week and opt for fish with lower mercury levels. Farmed salmon, flounder, perch, sole, cod, and catfish are all good choices. If you have a fisherman in the family, don't eat any locally caught fish unless your area health department has deemed it safe for consumption.

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