Eating fish during pregnancy is recommended given the numerous beneficial effects on children’s cognitive development and mothers’ health. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued advice on what types of fish are lower in mercury and how much fish pregnant persons and children should eat.

A chart categorizing fish as a best choice, good choice, or to be avoided during pregnancy based on the level of mercury it contains is provided by the FDA and EPA (Table).

Table. Fish Ranked by Mercury Level

Best ChoicesGood ChoicesAvoid
AnchoviesCarpKing mackerel
Atlantic mackerelChilean sea bassMarlin
CatfishGrouperOrange roughly
ClamsHalibutShark
CrabMahi mahiSwordfish
CrawfishMonkfishTilefish
FlounderSnapperTuna, bigeye
OystersStriped bass (ocean) 
SalmonTuna, albacore (canned and fresh/frozen) 
Sardines  
Scallops  
Shrimp  
Tilapia  
Trout  
Adapted from the FDA.

How Much Fish Is Recommended During Pregnancy?

The recommended amount of fish to eat per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend is as follows:


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  • Adults should eat at least 8 oz of seafood per week based on a 2000-calorie diet.
  • Individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat 9 and 12 oz, respectively, of fish per week from the best choices list.
  • Children should eat 2 servings of fish from the best choice list with serving sizes ranging from 1 oz at age 1 to 3 to 4 oz at age 11.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Fish During Pregnancy?

Fish contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (also called DHA and EPA), iron, iodine, and choline that help support brain development in babies. It also contains essential nutrients such as protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and selenium.

For pregnant persons, fish intake may have cardiovascular health benefits, promote bone health, decrease the risk of becoming overweight or obese, and decrease the risk for colorectal cancers.

Reference

Advice About Eating Fish. US Food and Drug Administration. Updated May 3, 2022. Accessed May 17, 2022. https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish#note3