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Pregnant Women must Steer Clear of Canned Tuna, Consumer Reports Warns

Update Date: Aug 21, 2014 10:16 AM EDT
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During pregnancy, doctors often warn women against eating certain foods that could increase their risk of pregnancy complications. In a new report, researchers once again stressed the importance of avoiding certain types of fish, particularly tuna. According to the team from Consumer Reports, the mercury content in all kinds of tuna can be too high for pregnant women to intake.

"We're particularly concerned about canned tuna, which is second only to shrimp as the most commonly eaten seafood in the United States. We encourage pregnant women to avoid all tuna," Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports, said in the group's news release.

Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to become pregnant are recommended to eat around eight to 12 ounces of fish, including shellfish, per week. Fish can be beneficial for baby's brain development because it contains high levels of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, not all fish are equal.

The researchers used data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine which kinds of fish and shellfish are safe to eat. They estimated the mercury levels found in different kinds of seafood and identified 20 kinds of seafood that are safe to consume several times a week. These options included salmon, scallops, shrimp and tilapia. On the other hand, the report found that all kinds of tuna had unsafe mercury levels.

"Tuna happens to be one of the fish that can be very high in mercury, and some types of tuna have higher levels than others," Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiative at Consumer Reports told The Huffington Post. "The type that tends to get used in sushi is often very high, but even canned light tuna, which tends to average pretty low levels and is generally one of the safer fish to eat, occasionally has these spikes of high levels of mercury."

Consumer Reports added that since women cannot tell which cans of tuna have lower levels of mercury, they are better off avoiding the product.

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