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    New advice on fish for pregnant women: Eat more of the good stuff

     

    On June 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) together issued a draft of updated advice on fish consumption for women of childbearing age, pregnant or nursing women, and young children. What’s new in this update: recommendations for minimum as well as maximum intake. Eat more fish is the new advice, as long as it’s of the safe variety.

    The most recent joint recommendations on this topic were issued in 2004. In them, the guidance from the FDA and the EPA focused on maximum amounts of fish that were safe to consume, but did not provide advice on a minimum amount.

    “For years many women have limited or avoided eating fish during pregnancy or feeding fish to their young children,” said Stephen Ostroff, MD, the FDA’s acting chief scientist, in a June 10 press release. “But emerging science now tells us that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health.”

    The updated advice recommends that pregnant women eat at least 8 oz and up to 12 oz (2-3 servings) per week of a variety of fish that are lower in mercury to support fetal growth and development. The advice also cautions pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid four types of fish that are associated with high mercury levels: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico; shark; swordfish; and king mackerel. In addition, the draft updated advice recommends limiting consumption of white (albacore) tuna to 6 oz a week.

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    Susan C. Olmstead
    Ms. Olmstead is the Editorial Director of Contemporary OB/GYN.

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