The benefits of eating fish while pregnant far outweigh the risks. Researchers from Children of the 90s at the University of Bristol and the Federal University of Rio de Janiero, Brazil, found that women who never ate seafood had a 53 percent greater likelihood of having high levels of anxiety at 32 weeks of pregnancy when compared to women who ate seafood regularly. The results suggest that two meals of white fish and one meal of oily fish each week would be enough to ward off anxiety.
Excessive anxiety is not good for the mother's long-term health and can result in her baby being born prematurely and having a low birth weight. Previous research from Children of the 90s has shown the beneficial effects of eating oily fish during pregnancy on a child's IQ and eyesight. This new study shows the importance of oily fish for a mother's mental health and the health and development of her baby.
Even though the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists still recommends not eating sushi while pregnant, there is no scientific evidence linking pregnant women eating sushi with health risks to babies or complications with pregnancies. In fact, Dr. Amos Grunebaum, Director of Obstetrics and Chief of Labor & Delivery at Cornell Medical center says it's totally fine. And in Japan (where they should know a thing or two about sushi), eating raw fish is considered part of good neonatal nutrition as long as the fish isn't high in mercury levels (salmon is a safe pick!).
The main worry about pregnant women eating sushi seems to come from the fear of parasites. However, farmed salmon (which is most likely to be used in sushi as opposed to wild salmon) is rarely susceptible to parasites, and fish is almost always flash frozen to transport, which kills the parasites anyway (and if you're eating cooked fish, the high temperatures will also kill the parasites).
According to the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, most seafood-related illnesses are due to shellfish—not fish. The risk of falling ill from seafood other than shellfish is 1 in 2 million compared to 1 in 25,000 from chicken.
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Image of sushi courtesy of Shutterstock.