Debunking AOL’s Pregnancy Myth

We read with interest an article featured on AOL (originally on titled: 5 myths about what pregnant women can and can’t eat, debunked.

The first myth debunked is that pregnant women can’t eat seafood. We were glad to see the author highlight the fact that when pregnant women avoid fish, it’s to the detriment of their children – who miss out on important health benefits.

But ironically, the recommendations that follow create more confusion for pregnant women, contradicting the official advice from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The AOL article suggests pregnant women avoid: halibut, cod, tuna, sea bass, bluefish and grouper.

This list is demonstrably false. The FDA advises pregnant women to avoid just four fish: shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish. These four fish make up less than 1% of all the fish eaten by Americans annually. The FDA also specifically says pregnant women can eat all types of tuna – white (albacore) and light canned tuna. They can eat up to 6 ounces of white (albacore) tuna per week.

The bottom line is that pregnant women should eat 2 to 3 servings of a variety of seafood (including options like tuna or cod) per week to improve babies’ eye and brain development.

Unfortunately, the average pregnant woman currently eats less than 2 ounces of seafood per week, due to confusing and contradicting messages about seafood during pregnancy, like this one featured on AOL. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans are clear when they say, “the benefits of consuming seafood far outweigh the risks, even for pregnant women.”