Eating healthy during pregnancy is of prime importance as we well know, and eating fish is thought to be good for pregnant women for a number of reasons – fish is good quality protein and also contains valuable Omega 3 fatty acids that are very valuable nutrients.
In fact, most doctors seem to agree that eating fish during pregnancy is a good idea, but the quantity, type and frequency of fish consumption during pregnancy appears to be a matter of debate.
The main concern about eating fish during pregnancy, relates to the high mercury levels found in many fish and high levels of mercury are known to be associated with birth defects relating to the nervous system of the fetus such as learning problems, delayed milestones, attention and concentration problems and cognitive insufficiency.
On the one hand is the benefit of fetal brain development that Omega 3 fatty acids and lean protein derived from fish offer. And on the other hand is the problem of damaging that brain development due to mercury content in the fish.
For this reason pregnant women are advised by the American Pregnancy Association not to have any shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tile fish for the duration of those 9 months because they are known to have higher levels of mercury.
Rather women should stick to 2 weekly servings of 6 ounces of fish such as salmon, shrimp, tilapia and trout.
It is obviously a delicate balance to achieve; the exact amounts of fish and the kind of fish that is safe and desirable to eat during pregnancy.
And some experts caution that rising mercury levels in the oceans means that women may be getting more mercury than they think while others opine that the benefits of eating fish outweigh the possible risks and it must be part of any healthy diet.