Importance of Fish for Pregnant Women and Young Children

December 14, 2015

You may be given a list of foods you need to avoid while pregnant such as soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, undercooked meat, as well as alcohol and other foods. There is one food that you actually need more of when pregnant and also while breastfeeding. You need more shellfish and fish. Science has shown that fish which are low in mercury can help during pregnancy and impact the neurodevelopment as well as growth of your child in a positive way. Fish is also good for the health of the mother too.

The EPA Environmental Protection Agency and FDA Food and Drug Administration have issues revised advice for pregnant women to consume more fish low in mercury, as well as those that may become pregnant, young children, and breastfeeding mothers

The FDA looked at data from pregnant women in the U.S. and saw that they ate less fish than was recommended. Twenty-one percent of women said that ate no fish at all in the previous month. Fifty percent of women that ate fish in the previous month ate less than two ounces of it and seventy-five percent ate less than four ounces each week.

Stephen Ostroff, M.D. FDA’s Acting Chief Scientist said th4e FDA is updating their advice because science shows that eating 8-12 ounces of fish and shellfish per week during pregnancy has positive results for the growth of the fetus and its development. The FDA looked at research from the past decade to revise their recommendations.

The new amounts of fish is the right range to maximize fetal development because fish provide a lot of benefits. The science wasn’t available in 2004 when the FDA last issued advice on fish consumption.

The advice in 2004 said to eat up to twelve ounces of fish, but didn’t give the minimum to eat. The new recommendation is for women that are pregnant or might become pregnant along with breastfeeding women to eat at least eight ounces of fish and shellfish per week and up to twelve ounces. The advice also extends to small children, but the amounts should that you feed them.

Which Fish and Shellfish Should You Consume?

Shellfish and fish are high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. Fish for the most part are low in saturated fat and have some vitamin D. eating fish while pregnant, breastfeeding or giving it to your child early in their development can help with overall development of the child and growth. Eating fish can also reduce your chances of having cardiac issues.

Those that just take omega-3 supplements are missing out on the entire package of nutrition that the whole fish or shellfish provides for you. It’s far better to consume the whole thing than rely on a supplement.

It’s a good idea to eat a wide variety of fish that are low in mercury. Most fish you buy in the grocery store are low in mercury such as salmon, shrimp, Pollock, tilapia, light tuna, cod, and catfish.

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