One of the most common questions Dr. Alqulali hears when treating moms-to-be is, "What can I eat?" And more specifically, "Can I eat shellfish or fish while pregnant?" Dr. Alqulali advises patients to eat a healthy diet during their pregnancy and to follow the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendation regarding consumption of fish and shellfish during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. The ACOG recommendation bases its advice on updated U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.
The current recommendation for eating fish and shellfish during pregnancy and breastfeeding is that women should limit consumption of "best choice" varieties to two to three times a week, and total consumption should not exceed 8 to 12 ounces total. "Best choice" varieties have no mercury or low mercury levels and include fish like mackerel, catfish, clams, cod, crawfish, flounder, haddock, hake, lobster, mullet, oysters, perch, salmon, scallops, shrimp, skate, tilapia, trout and canned tuna.
Types of fish that are higher in mercury are considered "good choices" by the FDA and include Chilean seabass, grouper, halibut, mahi-mahi, albacore tun and yellow fin tuna. These "good choices" of seafood should be limited to one time a week, and the portion size should be 6 ounces or less.
The guidelines also recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid certain types of fish because of their high levels of mercury. Fish included in this category include king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, Gulf of Mexico tilefish and bigeye tuna.
The FDA does not mention in its 2017 recommendation that pregnant women should avoid raw or undercooked seafood, but the ACOG does advise pregnant women to steer clear of these foods (sorry, sushi lovers!). Other precautions include avoiding raw eggs and raw meat, raw sprouts, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and unpasteurized dairy products.
For more questions about dietary guidelines during pregnancy and breastfeeding, call Dr. Alqulali at 888-716-0559.