Like so many nutritional recommendations, there is new advice regarding fish consumption during pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration is now encouraging pregnant women to consume more fish. Specifically, the FDA is recommending twelve ounces of fish per week.
This is a big change from the organization’s previous recommendations. In the past, the FDA recommended women limit their intake of fish and to completely avoid fish known to contain mercury. Even tuna fish was to be limited to three ounces per week.
The reason for the change is the omega 3 fatty acids in fish. These fatty acids are very beneficial for the baby’s brain development. Omega 3 fatty acids are said to increase the baby’s IQ by a few points. This benefit is believed to be enough to completely change the previous recommendations.
Like many other issues, there is controversy surrounding this latest recommendation. A number of scientists and environmental organizations are not in agreement with the FDA. The concern is the safety of fish, particularly species known to contain higher levels of mercury. Mercury can lead to lifelong problems and learning disabilities.
So what is a pregnant woman to do with all this conflicting opinion? You will have to weigh the risks and benefits to determine the best course of action for you and your baby. Discuss the issue with your doctor or midwife to help you come to a decision. The bottom line is fish can offer benefits in terms of brain development, but there is still a risk of injesting too much mercury if your diet consists of many servings of fish per week.