Last week the FDA & EPA announced new draft fish consumption recommendations for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. The new recommendations recommend at least 2 servings of low-mercury seafood every week. The recommendations are a big shift for the FDA & EPA- whose previous seafood advisory in 2004 set only an upper limit on the amount of fish that these groups should eat. The guidance released this week is a working draft. Once finalized, it will replace the current advice which was issued in 2004. You can download the draft advice, look at questions & answers and provide comment.
For the last 10 years the FDA has been warning pregnant women to avoid certain types of high-mercury fish because of concern that too much mercury could harm a developing brain. Mercury (Hg) is commonly found in the air and water, and it turns into methyl mercury in fish. Predatory fish like shark, swordfish, marlin, king mackerel, and tilefish typically have the highest levels. Methyl mercury is linked to many health problems especially for a developing fetus and nursing baby. Because of this, women who might become pregnant should avoid ocean predators. Shrimp, salmon, pollack, and catfish are generally low in mercury.
Our WIC Foods already help support these new recommendations by providing only light canned tuna, salmon and sardines to breastfeeding women and not allowing fish higher in mercury like albacore tuna. Women of childbearing age know their decisions today can help them have a healthier baby tomorrow. Our Office of Women’s Health and PowerMe A2Z Program have more information on preconception health, or you can go to Womenshealth.gov. For more information about mercury while you’re pregnant, you can go to the March of Dimes or FDA websites.