Why Pregnant Women Need Seafood

Pregnant and worried about mercury exposure? FDA warnings about the chemical have led many moms-to-be to skip seafood altogether, says Natalia Stasenko, R.D., a pediatric dietitian and owner of Tribeca Nutrition in New York City. And while being cautious is smart—you do want to avoid toxins—plenty of fish are major sources of omega-3, a vital nutrient that ensures babies have the proper neurodevelopment while in utero. Plus, there are lots of species that are safe to eat. Next time you’re in the seafood aisle, follow these rules of thumb: Avoid predatory species like swordfish and shark because their diet could include mercury-exposed fish—and, since they live longer, they’re likely to have accumulated more mercury in their bodies. Instead, stick with consistently safe options like shrimp, wild salmon, scallops, sardines, herring, and trout, which are also high in omega-3, says Stasenko. If you’re still unsure, she recommends checking with your local fishery about the healthiest options, since additional safe choices may be available near you. For more, visit epa.gov/hg/advisories.htm.