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Seafood and Pregnancy

Seafood Do's and Don'ts for Expecting and Nursing Moms:

1. DON'T eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.

2. DO eat up to 12 ounces of fish and shellfish a week. Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

3. DO mix up the types of fish and shellfish you eat.

4. DON'T eat the same type of fish or shellfish more than once a week.

Sushi

Certain types of cooked sushi such as eel and California rolls are safe to eat when pregnant. However, raw fish should also be avoided during pregnancy because it may contain parasites such as flukes or worms

Mercury in Fish and Seafood

Fish and seafood can be an important part of a balanced diet for pregnant women and those of childbearing age who may become pregnant. Nonetheless, some large long-lived fish contain high levels of a form of mercury called methyl mercury that may potentially harm an unborn baby's developing nervous system.

Mercury Levels in Seafood Species

The following 3 tables provide the mean and range of mercury levels in a variety of fish and shellfish

TABLE 1. Large Fish That Can Contain High Levels of Mercury

SPECIES

MEAN (PPM)

RANGE (PPM)

Shark

0.988

ND - 4.54

Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico)

1.45

0.65-3.73

Swordfish

0.976

ND - 3.22

King mackerel

0.73

0.23 - 1.67

PPM=parts per million

ND=Not detectable - mercury concentration below detection level (Level of Detection (LOD)=0.01ppm)

TABLE 2. Fish or Shellfish That May Contain High Levels of Mercury

SPECIES

MEAN (PPM)

RANGE (PPM)

Bass (Chilean)

0.386

0.085 - 2.180

Mackerel Spanish
(Gulf of Mexico)

0.454

0.070 - 1.560

Halibut

0.252

ND -1.520

Snapper

0.189

ND - 1.366

Lobster Northern (American)

0.31

0.05 - 1.31

Tuna all (Fresh or frozen)

0.383

ND - 1.30

Grouper (All species)

0.465

0.053 - 1.205

Monkfish

0.180

0.020 - 1.020

Bass
(Sea bass/ Striped Bass/ Rockfish)

0.219

ND - 0.960

Orange Roughy

0.554

0.296 - 0.855

PPM=parts per million

ND=Not detectable - mercury concentration below detection level (Level of Detection (LOD)=0.01ppm)

TABLE 3. Fish and Shellfish With Much Lower Levels of Mercury

SPECIES

MEAN (PPM)

RANGE (PPM)

Tuna (canned)

0.118

ND - 0.852

Pollock

0.041

ND - 0.78

Trout Seawater

0.256

ND - 0.744

Sablefish

0.220

ND - 0.700

Trout Freshwater

0.072

ND - 0.678

Crab
(Blue, King, and Snow)

0.060

ND- 0.610

Cod

0.095

ND - 0.420

Squid

0.070

ND - 0.400

Anchovies

0.043

ND - 0.340

Catfish

0.049

ND - 0.314

Carp

0.14

0.01 - 0.27

Oysters

0.013

ND - 0.250

Scallop

0.050

ND - 0.22

Salmon (Fresh or frozen)

0.014

ND - 0.190

Herring

0.044

ND - 0.135

Tilapia

0.010

ND - 0.070

Crawfish

0.033

ND - 0.051

Clam

ND

ND

Shrimp

ND

ND

Salmon (Canned)

ND

ND

Clam

ND

ND

PPM=parts per million

ND=Not detectable - mercury concentration below detection level (Level of Detection (LOD)=0.01ppm)