While fish may offer up some health benefits to pregnant women, a new report from the magazine Consumer Reports says eating tuna while pregnant should be avoided at all costs.
The report comes after the FDA and EPA proposed a minimum weekly level for fish intake back in June, which included recommendations for eating tuna while pregnant. According to the agencies’ proposal, pregnant or breastfeeding women along with those trying to conceive should eat no more than 12 ounces of fish each week, but they should be eating fish for their health and the health of their babies.
But not so, says Consumers Union, Consumer Reports advocacy group. “We’re particularly concerned about canned tuna, which is second only to shrimp as the most commonly eaten seafood in the United States,” Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union told the Washington Post. “We encourage pregnant women to avoid all tuna.”
On its website, the FDA lists the mercury levels found in common fish, but Consumer Reports says the agency may be “underestimating the danger,” of fish like tuna, explains the Post. “When [Consumer Reports] analyzed the FDA’s data, they found 20 percent of the light canned tuna samples tested since 2005 have almost twice as much mercury as what the FDA said is the average amount.”
The risk of damage to a fetus from eating high mercury fish is very real. “The brain undergoes a series of complex developmental stages that need to be completed in the right sequence and at the right time,” Philippe Grandjean, an adjunct professor at the Harvard School of Public Health told Consumer Reports. He says that within just a few hours of consuming mercury-laden fish, the fetus’ brain could become permanently damaged.
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