EPA and FDA Issue New Draft Guidelines For Pregnant Women Who Eat Fish
Posted on June 10, 2014
Ever since the news got out about how much mercury is in seafood, pregnant women have been avoiding it. Mercury can cause severe brain damage to a developing fetus. Unfortunately, our oceans' fish are contaminated with mercury and other pollutants. The FDA and EPA got the mercury message out, but now the agencies are unhappy that pregnant women are avoiding seafood. So the agencies have issued new guidelines which say that pregnant women should eat low-mercury containing seafood, but avoid fish which are high in mercury. The agencies say the nutritional benefits from most seafood outweigh any mercury risks.The draft advice warns pregnant to avoid four types of fish: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark; swordfish; and king mackerel. It also warns pregnant women to limit consumption of white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces a week. The whiter the tuna, the older the tuna. Light tuna is younger and has less mercury per ounce.
So what are pregnant supposed to eat? Now they say to choose shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod. They also say to keep up with advisories from local authorities about fish from local streams, rivers and lakes.
Mercury is toxic to humans, there is no "safe level." The idea that pregnant women have to eat fish during their pregnancy is absurd. There are plenty of other protein sources for those that wish to avoid fish completely. The World Health Organization states:
- Exposure to mercury -- even small amounts -- may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life.
- Mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.
- Mercury is considered by WHO as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.
- People are mainly exposed to methylmercury, an organic compound, when they eat fish and shellfish that contain the compound.