Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 09, 2009

However, many varieties of fish contain mercury, which may affect the developing nervous system of the fetus. Shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish are some of the fish varieties that pregnant women must avoid as these contain high levels of mercury. PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls also add to the risk. Although the substance, which was used in electrical equipment, is now banned, it is still found in lakes and streams.

We recommend low mercury fish like shrimp, crab, cod, clams, scallops, canned light tuna, canned salmon, Pollock and catfish etc twice a week.

Be careful to avoid privately caught fish, like those caught by family and friends. Commercial fish is a safer option. Also avoid raw fish dishes like Sushi. The fish needs to be well cooked and hygienically prepared.

If chosen with appropriate precautions, consumption of fish can prove immensely beneficial to the mental development of the baby.

Another way of deriving the benefits of fish is having Omega 3 supplements. These promote development of cardiac and respiratory systems, enhance brain and eye (retina) development, boost the learning and cognitive function of the baby and increase the baby's attention span.

Such supplements also help mothers avoid complications such as pre-term labor, pre-eclampsia, and premature delivery.

Another reason why we recommend omega-3 supplements rather than fatty, cold water fish is that it helps women avoid contaminants found in seafood like dioxins, arsenic, mercury, lead etc.

If you are not absolutely sure, we would advice avoiding seafood altogether. Supplements are a viable alternative.

There is no harm in taking fish oil supplements that are purified and molecularly distilled. A note of caution: educate yourself before you decide on the brand of supplements to take.

Question: After episodes like avian flu and swine flu, I wonder if it is safe for pregnant women to have fish. I conceived recently and used to eat fish fairly often earlier. Can I continue? If so, are there any precautions that I should take?

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