Pregnant Women Diet Should Include More Fish Says FDA

Federal officials are recommending that pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as young children, should add fish to their diets, in order to give them important health benefits, according to.

The Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday in an updated report with the Environmental Protection Agency that these specific groups should consume fish that is low in mercury levels, according to the

LA Times.

The agency had reportedly put a limit on the amount of fish pregnant women and children should eat in the past due to concerns about contamination from methylmercury, which can cause brain damage, especially to developing brains, according to Elizabeth Southerland of the Environmental Protection Agency.

For the first time, the FDA set a minimum amount of fish needed in the diets of pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children.

“Seafood can be a great source of protein, iron and zinc – crucial nutrients for your baby’s growth and development. In addition, the omega-3 fatty acids in many fish can promote your baby’s brain development,” wrote Dr. Roger W. Harms, a pregnancy specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Research has shown that 21% of pregnant women ate no fish in the past month, according to Stephen Ostroff, acting chief scientist at the FDA.

Even from those who ate fish, half ate fewer than 2 ounces a week.

Medical director of the March of Dimes Foundation, Edward R.B. McCabe, stated that fish contain heart-healthy oils, such as omega-3 fatty acids.

“There are so many women who are missing out on the benefits,” stated Southerland.

It is important to note that nine of the 10 most frequently sold fish in the USA are lower in mercury and that fish used in fish sticks and other commercial products are usually low in mercury.

“The health benefits far outweigh any risk,” Ostroff stated.

However, pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding should avoid albacore, Edward Groth III, a food safety scientist and adviser to the non-profit Mercury Policy Project stated.

“Given the enormous role tuna plays in U.S. mercury exposure, if women are going to eat more fish and also reduce their mercury exposure, they simply have to strictly limit their tuna consumption,” Groth explained. 

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