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How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Date:4/11/2009

ir blood levels for mercury. When their children were 3, they took a battery of tests to assess intelligence and motor skills.

"Test scores were highest in children of mothers who ate more than two weekly fish servings but had lower mercury levels, suggesting that the greatest benefit occurred when women ate fish low in mercury," Oken said.

"Even mothers who ate canned tuna more than twice weekly had children who scored better on tests, compared with those who did not eat canned tuna during pregnancy," she added.

Another study looked at 25,446 children born to Danish mothers. Kids whose moms ate more fish during pregnancy had better motor and cognitive test scores than those whose moms ate the least fish.

"Compared with women who ate the least fish during pregnancy, women who at the most fish -- about 14 ounces per week, on average -- had about a 30 percent likelihood of better development, about the same advantage a child would get from being one month older or from breast-feeding for more than one year," Oken explained.

The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition partnered with the Maternal Nutrition Group, an independent group of physicians, researchers and nutritionists, in 2007 to encourage pregnant women to eat fish as part of a healthy diet. The concern was that many women were interpreting the FDA guidelines as a warning and curtailing their fish intake.

The FDA advisory, first issued in 2004, targets women who are pregnant or may become pregnant as well as nursing mothers and young children. These populations are urged to avoid certain types of fish that may be higher in mercury and therefore toxic to a baby's or child's developing nervous system. These include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

The FDA suggests choosing varieties lower in mercury and eating no more than 12 ounces -- or roughly two meals -- of fish or seafood a week. That upper limit sh
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