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FDA: Pregnant Women and Kids should Eat more Low-Mercury Fish

Update Date: Jun 11, 2014 10:32 AM EDT

Due to the potential dangers of mercury found in fish, women planning on getting pregnant, pregnant women and breast-feeding women have been recommended to avoid certain types of fish. Although some fish can be safe to eat, new statistics revealed that women were either skipping fish altogether or were not eating enough. Since fish low in mercury can be extremely healthful, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are now recommending women to incorporate low-mercury fish back into their diets.

"The FDA is saying pregnant women should eat four times as much fish as they do currently," said Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute according to FOX News. "They are changing the narrative about risk."

The FDA and the EPA conducted a recent analysis and discovered that one in five pregnant women were not eating fish at all and roughly 75 percent of the women were eating less than four ounces of fish per week. In response to these numbers, the FDA has drafted new guidelines that recommend pregnant women to eat eight to 12 ounces, or two to three servings, of low-mercury fish per week. Low-mercury fish include salmon, canned light tune, cod and tilapia. The new draft also recommends young children to intake two to three servings of low-mercury fish per week.

"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," said Stephen Ostroff, the FDA's acting chief scientist, reported by NPR.

Laura Jana, who is a pediatrician in Omaha, NE, added, "Importantly, the new FDA draft advice makes it clear that canned light tuna is recommended as a safe source of fish for pregnant women. In terms of convenience, this is great news ... it requires no advance planning and is unquestionably simple to prepare - from tuna sandwiches to Tuna Tetrazzini or simply putting it atop a salad."

Critics cautioned that pregnant women must still be careful about eating fish high in mercury. Any pregnant women who are confused about what fish they can safely eat should consult their doctors.

The new guidelines, "Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know," can be accessed here.

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