Risks & What To Avoid
When pregnant, nursing, or thinking about becoming pregnant, avoid eating fish and shellfish with high levels of contaminants to protect your baby.
Avoid exposure to excessive mercury
Excess mercury can pass through the placenta or breast milk and harm your baby. Do not eat fish that is known to have high levels of mercury in the form of methylmercury listed in the High Mercury/PCBs category. If you eat 4 ounces from the Moderate Mercury category, don’t eat any more fish from this category until the next week. For fish not listed on the Fish for your HealthTM advisory or a state advisory, eat no more than 1 serving per month.
Avoid exposure to excess PCBs
Like mercury, PCBs can pass through the placenta or breast milk and harm your baby. Do not eat fish that are known to contain high levels of PCBs. Fish known to have unsafe levels of PCBs are indicated with * on the Fish for your HealthTM printable card. Avoid eating fish in the High Mercury/PCBs category.
Do Not Eat Raw Fish
When pregnant, avoid eating raw oysters, raw fish (sushi), or refrigerated smoked fish. Do not feed raw fish or shellfish to infants or children.
Pregnant and lactating individuals and young children should only eat seafood that has been properly cooked. Raw and undercooked fish may contain pathogens, like Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause spontaneous abortion. There are also pathogens which may harm young children. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that fish be cooked to a temperature of 145 °F for at least 15 seconds. Do not eat raw oysters, raw fish (sushi) or refrigerated smoked fish labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky”.
Essential nutrients and toxins can pass through the placenta or breastmilk and affect the development of your baby. Eating seafood high in essential nutrients, like omega 3 fatty acids, and low in toxins, like mercury and PCBs, can benefit your baby’s overall growth and development. Health experts and scientists have found that the benefits of eating seafood can outweigh the risks of not eating seafood. What does this mean for you? Being informed about what, and how often, different types of seafood should be eaten and what to avoid is important for both you and your baby’s overall health.