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Health News you Can Use: Tuna Fish and Pregnancy

separator If you’re pregnant or of childbearing age, take a good look at the amount of tuna fish you eat. There’s conflicting advice about whether to eat tuna at all or whether to limit it, but it’s safe to say that too much tuna can increase the risk of mercury poison in an unborn child. The question is, how much tuna is safe for pregnant women to eat?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has called for pregnant women to avoid completely swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish because they may contain enough mercury to harm the development of the fetus. But they have not done the same for tuna. Instead, they recommend that pregnant women limit tuna to perhaps two 6-ounce cans per week, if that is all the fish they eat.

Some environmentalists believe that pregnant women should not eat any tuna at all. But members of an FDA panel say they’re concerned that women who stop eating tuna may replace their twice-weekly tuna sandwich with something that’s less nutritious—a bologna sandwich, for example. Tuna fish is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and women who cut out tuna should replace it with food of similar nutritional value.

The position of the Center for Science in the Public Interest is that pregnant women should avoid fresh tuna steaks and that children under five should eat no more than two servings of canned tuna per month.

Typically, mercury enters the systems of fish through industrial pollution. Larger fish that live longer are likely to accumulate large amounts of mercury over the years. Babies who absorb mercury into their systems before birth are at risk for developing learning disabilities and other neurological disorders.

If you’re wondering whether you’re getting too much tuna in your diet, talk with your doctor about the total amount of fish you consume on a regular basis. If you think you should avoid tuna completely, be sure to replace it with healthy foods such as omega-3-fortified eggs, small amounts of avocado and walnuts.

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