Saturday, January 26, 2008

Be careful eating fish when you are pregnant.

When I was pregnant with Thia, my doctor gave me this important information about mercury in fish and shellfish. I'd like to share it with you and hopefully it useful.

According to FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency):

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. Fish and shellfish contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. Some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child developing nervous system.

Target:
- woman who might become pregnant
- woman who are pregnant
- nursing mothers
- young children

1. do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish.
2. do not eat more than 12 oz of total fish each week.
3. do not eat more than 6 oz of albacore white tuna per week.
4. eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury: shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.

Here are the complete list of fish and shellfish and mercury contamination in them:

LEAST MERCURY

Enjoy these fish:

Anchovies
Butterfish
Catfish
Clam
Crab (Domestic)
Crawfish/Crayfish
Croaker (Atlantic)
Flounder*
Haddock (Atlantic)*
Hake
Herring
Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
Mullet
Oyster
Perch (Ocean)
Plaice
Pollock
Salmon (Canned)**
Salmon (Fresh)**
Sardine
Scallop*
Shad (American)
Shrimp*
Sole (Pacific)
Squid (Calamari)
Tilapia
Trout (Freshwater)
Whitefish
Whiting

MODERATE MERCURY
Eat six servings or less per month:

Bass (Striped, Black)
Carp
Cod (Alaskan)*
Croaker (White Pacific)
Halibut (Atlantic)*
Halibut (Pacific)
Jacksmelt
(Silverside)
Lobster
Mahi Mahi
Monkfish*
Perch (Freshwater)
Sablefish
Skate*
Snapper*
Tuna (Canned
chunk light)
Tuna (Skipjack)*
Weakfish (Sea Trout)

HIGH MERCURY
Eat three servings or less per month:

Bluefish
Grouper*
Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf)
Sea Bass (Chilean)*
Tuna (Canned Albacore)
Tuna (Yellowfin)*

HIGHEST MERCURY
Avoid eating:

Mackerel (King)
Marlin*
Orange Roughy*
Shark*
Swordfish*
Tilefish*
Tuna
(Bigeye, Ahi)*

* Fish in Trouble! These fish are perilously low in numbers or are caught using environmentally destructive methods. To learn more, see the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute, both of which provide guides to fish to enjoy or avoid on the basis of environmental factors.

** Farmed Salmon may contain PCB's, chemicals with serious long-term health effects.

Sources for NRDC's guide: The data for this guide to mercury in fish comes from two federal agencies: the Food and Drug Administration, which tests fish for mercury, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which determines mercury levels that it considers safe for women of childbearing age.

About the mercury-level categories: The categories on the list (least mercury to highest mercury) are determined according to the following mercury levels in the flesh of tested fish.

  • Least mercury: Less than 0.09 parts per million
  • Moderate mercury: From 0.09 to 0.29 parts per million
  • High mercury: From 0.3 to 0.49 parts per million
  • Highest mercury: More than .5 parts per million

According to NRDC:

Over the years, many companies have used mercury to manufacture a range of products including thermometers, thermostats and automotive light switches. Although the metallic mercury in these products rarely poses a direct health hazard, industrial mercury pollution becomes a serious threat when it is released into the air by power plants, certain chemical manufacturers and other industrial facilities, and then settles into oceans and waterways, where it builds up in fish that we eat. Children and woman of childbearing age are most at the risk.

Exposure to mercury can be particularly hazardous for pregnant women and small children. During the first several years of life, a child's brain is still developing and rapidly absorbing nutrients. Prenatal and infant mercury exposure can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy,deafness and blindness. Even in low doses, mercury may affect a child's development, delaying walking and talking, shortening attention span and causing learning disabilities.

In adults, mercury poisoning can adversely affect fertility and blood pressure regulation and can cause memory loss, tremors, vision loss and numbness of the fingers and toes. A growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to mercury may also lead to heart disease.


Sources:
- FDA's seafood information and resources
- NRDC's mercury contamination in fish and shellfish