The FDA and EPA agree that pregnant and breastfeeding women should limit their fish consumption to two or three meals per week (not to exceed 12 ounces total); avoid mercury-harboring species such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish; and limit intake of bottom-feeders such as clams and other shellfish. “Pregnant women should eat medium-size, commercially sold fish like salmon and flounder,” says Jonathan Scher, M.D., assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. Check with your health department before eating fish caught in local rivers, lakes or streams to ensure that there are low levels of environmental toxins in the area.
What about canned tuna? Hogan points out that the type used for canning comes from a smaller fish and doesn’t have the same mercury profile as fresh tuna. In fact, FDA tests show that canned light tuna has a lower mercury level than canned albacore. To be safe, don’t eat more than six ounces of albacore per week.
The bottom line: To protect yourself and your baby, eat different species of fish rather than just one or a few types. Says Hogan, “As with everything else, variety and moderation are key.”