When I’m pregnant I often find myself trying to remember the recommendations surround seafood intake during pregnancy. There are obvious recommendations regarding avoiding raw seafood, however I struggle to remember the types of fish I should consume regularly vs having occasionally!

Raw and cold smoked seafood

This foods can potential contain listeria, parasites or bacteria, and therefore should be avoided during pregnancy. When these foods are cooked the bacteria and listeria are destroyed.

Oysters are the exception, and should be avoided even when they have been cooked.

Mercury content of fish

Mercury is often found in fish. Developing fetuses and young children are more vulnerable to the effects of mercury, which may cause developmental delays. Pregnant women are advised to be selective about the type and amount of fish they eat during pregnancy. Fish that contain higher levels of mercury include shark (flake), ray, swordfish, barramundi, gemfish, orange roughy, ling and southern bluefin tuna.

The simplest way to think about mercury in fish is… the bigger the fish, the more little fish it eats! Resulting in a higher mercury (as all the little fish have mercury, and it all adds up!)

Fish that contain higher levels of mercury include:

  • Shark
  • Ray
  • Swordfish
  • Barramundi
  • Gemfish
  • Orange roughy
  • Ling
  • Southern bluefin tuna.

Examples of fish that contain lower levels of mercury include:

  • Shellfish including prawns, lobsters and oysters
  • Salmon
  • Canned tuna.

It is suggested that pregnant women eat 2–3 serves of fish every week for the good health of themselves and their developing baby. However, pregnant women or women intending to become pregnant within the next six months should be careful about which fish they eat. Some types of fish contain high levels of mercury, which can be harmful to the developing fetus. Pregnant women should:

  • Limit to one serve (150g) per fortnight – billfish (swordfish, broadbill and marlin) and shark (flake), with no other fish eaten in that fortnight.
  • Limit to one serve (150g) per week – orange roughy (deep sea perch) or catfish, with no other fish eaten that week.
  • Eat 2–3 serves per week – of any other fish or seafood (for example, salmon or tuna).

Note: 150g is equivalent to approximately two frozen crumbed fish portions.

Source: Better Health Channel

Sally Muir – Dietitan & Persoanl Trainer

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