Can You Eat Fish While Pregnant?

Mercury In Fish

Mercury in fish is becoming a large issue. Mercury can be a bi-product of industrial pollution. When mercury is released in water, bacteria turns it into methyl mercury. A small amount of methyl mercury is safe for most people. But pregnant women have to watch out for high amounts of mercury since it can cause birth defects, still-births and even developmental problems in babies.

Methyl mercury builds up in the fat of fish. Small, short lived fish don’t have high amounts of methyl mercury and are safe for pregnant women to eat. But larger fish that are long-living and eat lots of smaller fish do have high concentrations of methyl mercury stored in their fat and should be avoided by pregnant women.

Fish to Avoid

To avoid methyl mercury, you’ll want to completely avoid the bigger fish that eat lots of smaller fish during your pregnancy. These include shark, tilefish, swordfish, marlin, grouper and king mackerel.

What about Tuna?

Canned tuna is safe for pregnant women to eat in small amounts, about twelve ounces a week. However, you will want to buy the "chunk light" tuna since this is from smaller tunas that don’t have as long of a life, so they have a lower concentration of methyl mercury build up in their fats.

Fish to Eat

Despite the concerns of methyl mercury, it is a good idea to eat fish during your pregnancy. Fish are high in protein and low in fat. They’re also high in Vitamin B and omega-3s which may help your baby’s brain development. Fish that are safe to eat during pregnancy include salmon, trout, mahi mahi, catfish and shellfish.

Speak to your care provider about how much fish is safe to eat during your pregnancy.

In addition, always make sure you’ve thoroughly cooked your fish so it’s flakey and avoid raw fish (sushi) during your pregnancy.