Once a woman confirms that she is pregnant, there are typically people everywhere telling her what she can not do, eat or drink. Stop smoking. No drinking. Eliminate cold cuts, unprocessed cheese and raw sushi. Quit tennis, horseback riding, and roller skating. The list could go on and on.
However, some experts and politicians alike want pregnant women to know that one thing they do not have to give up is seafood. New research is pointing to the idea that seafood, once thought of as a blanket food category to avoid all together, can actually be quite healthy for pregnant women.
In August 2013, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) organized a letter with bipartisan support for President Obama urging him to update the Food and Drug Administration's decades old recommendations on what is safe for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children when it comes to seafood.
The group specifically want him to change the current language on seafood because many women misconstrue it to mean they should not consume seafood of any kind during their pregnancy or nursing period.
The current recommendation is to avoid seafood with high levels of mercury, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. This recommendation was developed from research that dates back to 2002 or earlier, and many women think all seafood should be avoided.
The most up-to-date information suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in seafood, can improve the brain and eye development of an unborn baby. Seafood is also a low-fat, high-protein food that helps women and children support a healthy lifestyle.
Currently, the USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend that pregnant women consume at least 8 ounces of seafood per week. The benefits a pregnant woman and her unborn child get from seafood far outweigh any risks. The FDA found, however, that the average pregnant woman eats less than two ounces of seafood each week, only 25 percent of the USDA recommendation.
Senator Landrieu, along with 19 of her colleagues who also signed the letter, are seeking consistent, updated advice for pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children.