Consumption of fish during pregnancy is recommended given the many beneficial effects on the cognitive development of children and the health of mothers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued guidance on low-mercury types of fish and how much fish pregnant women and children should eat. .
A table categorizing fish as best choice, good choice or avoid during pregnancy based on the level of mercury it contains is provided by the FDA and EPA (table).
Table. Fish classified by mercury level
|Top picks||good choices||Avoid|
|Atlantic mackerel||Patagonian toothfish||Marine|
|Wade||snapper||Tuna, bigeye tuna|
|Oysters||Striped bass (ocean)|
|Salmon||Tuna, albacore (canned and fresh/frozen)|
|St. Jacques shells|
How much fish is recommended during pregnancy?
The recommended amount of fish to eat according to the Dietary Recommendations for Americans is as follows:
- Adults should eat at least 8 ounces of seafood per week based on a 2000 calorie diet.
- People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat 9 and 12 ounces of fish per week, respectively, from the top picks list.
- Children should eat 2 servings of fish from the best choice list with portions ranging from 1 oz at age 1 to 3 to 4 oz at age 11.
What are the benefits of eating fish during pregnancy?
Fish contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (also called DHA and EPA), iron, iodine and choline which help support brain development in babies. It also contains essential nutrients such as protein, vitamin B12vitamin D and selenium.
For pregnant women, fish consumption may have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, promote bone health, decrease the risk of overweight or obesity and decrease the risk of colorectal cancer.
Advice on fish consumption. US Food and Drug Administration. Updated May 3, 2022. Accessed May 17, 2022. https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish#note3
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