Seafood and Pregnancy


Do's and Don'ts for Expecting/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

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)

Fish/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)

Fish/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/td> 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)

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