Pregnant moms are told to skip this, eat this and avoid that at all costs. And when it comes to seafood we are told to minimize our intake or limit it altogether to avoid naturally occurring mercury concerns. However, as times change, so does the advice offered. Now we are hearing more stories about eating more fish so that we can consume healthy fats, particularly that found in seafood.
Recent studies have actually found a positive connection between eating seafood while pregnant, a reduction in autism, and a child’s neuropsychological development. In fact, the study concluded that when mothers ate more fatty fish than the standard recommendation (a maximum of 12 ounces per week in the U.S.), increased neuropsychological scores were achieved, again balanced with the lower risk of autism. Sticking to the minimum requirement still showed positive results, although those who consumed over and above the recommended amounts, achieved greater scores.
Of course, eating an excess of mercury is still a major concern as it can delay brain development in your child so always err on the side of caution. The European Food Safety Authority recommends 5 ounces – 21 ounces per week which amounts to approximately 1-4 servings. So the advice seems to be as long as you are not consuming fish with high mercury levels every night, you should be relatively safe.
Of course, it is all down to you. These are just recommendations, and studies are still being conducted as to the real benefits and risks. Limiting your intake of high-mercury fish while continuing to consume other types of seafood seems to be the ideal way to reap the benefits of this wonderful brain food.
As always, speak to your doctor or nutritionist if you have any concerns.