The FDA, in a change of course, now wants pregnant women to eat more fish. But not the kinds that are high in mercury.
Altering its 2004 advice to shun most seafood, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday in an updated report with the Environmental Protection Agency that pregnant and breast-feeding women and young children should eat fish that is low in mercury levels to gain important health benefits.
Those fish — including salmon, trout, anchovies and sardines — are high in essential omega-3 fatty acids. The FDA also noted that pollock, shrimp, talapia, catfish, cod and canned light tuna are safe to consume while pregnant or breast-feeding.
For the first time, the agency set a minimum amount of fish needed in the diets of pregnant and breast-feeding women and young children. Previously, the FDA put a cap on the amount of fish pregnant women and children should eat, but not a floor. The updated advice aligns recommendations for pregnant women and young children with those in its 2010 dietary guidelines for Americans.
“Seafood can be a great source of protein, iron and zinc — crucial nutrients for your baby’s growth and development,” wrote Dr. Roger W. Harms, a pregnancy specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
The updated draft still leaves much to be desired for consumer groups, such as the Mercury Policy Project, which was disappointed with the agencies’ failure to require labeling and address exposure risks from Americans’ consumption of canned tuna.