Eating fish while pregnant is something of a paradox – while fish has a number of vital nutrients that are essential for proper development of a pregnancy and its intake is to be recommended, there are also certain concerns regarding consumption of fish during pregnancy.
It is generally recommended that pregnant women should be eating at least 2 servings of fish per week throughout their pregnancy. This can actually help in reducing the risk of the baby being born with a mental anomaly or disorder.
It is the omega 3 fatty acids present in fish (particularly in oily fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, tuna etc) that are very beneficial not just for pregnant women but also for others since it can keep heart disease, cancer and memory loss at bay.
Eating fish while pregnant is also known to help improve the developing baby’s eye-hand coordination. Also the developing fetus’ respiratory system, circulatory system and neurological development are helped.
The chances of a miscarriage or a premature delivery are also reduced, so clearly there are many benefits and reasons why women should eat fish during pregnancy. One study has even shown that the children born to mothers who ate fish during pregnancy were more intelligent and had better developmental skills than those whose mothers did not.
However there are certain specific concerns attached to eating fish while pregnant – one is that the fish should be cooked properly and not be had rare. This increases chances of an infection or bug being passed on to the pregnant woman. Also fresh and good quality fish should be chosen, so there is no danger of food poisoning from it.
The other reason that many experts warn against consumption of fish during pregnancy, is the concerns with regard to contamination of fish. The apprehension that mercury content in fish would be harmful for the baby – particularly the nervous system of the fetus has led to pregnant women being warned against eating more than 12 ounces of fish per week.
However it is claimed that there has never been an actual case of fetal mercury toxicity reported, so this apprehension of mercury poisoning in the unborn baby remains a theoretical one. It is argued that the possible dangers posed by eating fish while pregnant, are minimal and are, in any case outweighed by the many benefits that come from eating fish.
There are certain fish types, such as Swordfish, shark that contain higher degrees of contaminants, and shouldn’t be consumed during pregnancy. Some experts even advise against eating fish such as, white tuna, tilefish and marlin during pregnancy, so as to avoid any possibility of the contamination being passed on.
However many experts agree that having about three servings of seafood such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines, as well as lobsters, shrimp and clams, could actually be beneficial and there is no real reason to avoid these foods for the entire duration of the pregnancy. Eating fish while pregnant, albeit in moderation, is thus advisable.