New Rules on Eating Seafood While Pregnant Are Totally Confusing​

woman with a plate of seafoodFor years, pregnant women have been told to steer clear of sushi, and most if not all seafood, because it's all full of neurotoxic heavy metals and, thus, harmful to a developing brain. But the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have now released a draft attempting to clarify what's truly safe and what's not. The key word: Attempting. 

Basically, the new recommendation is that pregnant women should eat more "low-mercury fish," because they can be good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain development. They echo 2010 dietary guidelines that say pregnant women should consume at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces -- or two to three servings -- of a variety of seafood per week.

But since there's no plan to put labels on packages of fish or at fish counters, this is potentially risky advice.

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We're expected to just remember that shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish (from the Gulf of Mexico no less) are no-gos, because of the mercury content. We're supposed to just know that white albacore tuna should be limited to six ounces a week. And that salmon, shrimp, pollock, and catfish are lowest in mercury. But then what if it's farmed vs. wild-caught? From Thailand vs. Florida? Obviously, just a bit of labeling would be tremendously helpful. (Especially when you're already dealing with pregnancy brain!)

More from The Stir: Eating Sushi While Pregnant: Is It Safe?

Thankfully, consumer groups are suing the FDA, saying that warnings over the last decade haven't been clear enough about what fish could pose a risk. We need labels. Pregnant women -- or, heck, anyone concerned about the health hazards of neurotoxic food -- shouldn't be expected to bring print-outs to the grocery store or stand in front of the supermarket fish guy frantically Googling to figure out what's what.

Ultimately, we have no choice but to take ownership of this issue, to protect ourselves and our babies. But clearly the government has a lot more work to do, as well.

How do you feel about eating fish while pregnant?

 

Image via ©iStock.com/anouchka

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