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by Amanda Conschafter, blog editor

Many pregnant women embrace eating habits that protect and benefit their unborn babies. But their choices can become complicated when claims from unscientific sources clash with regulatory agencies’ clear, established nutrition guidance. Such is the case with a recent report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on the value of fish in a healthy pregnancy diet.

Research and Reservations

The EWG tested hair samples from more than 250 women who reported consuming as much or more fish than recommended by the Food and Drug Administration for women who are nursing, pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Testing results suggested that more than 30 percent of these women had higher levels of mercury in their bodies than deemed safe by Environment Protection Agency standards.

The EWG study’s design, however, could belie its data:

Accepted Science on Fish Consumption

In contrast, a significant body of scientific research demonstrates that the value of fish consumption for pregnant women outweighs methylmercury risks.

Policymakers, health care providers and patients alike must be cautious about the quality of research used to shape guidance on fish intake, lest confusion drive risk-averse pregnant women to avoid fish altogether—and forfeit the proven health benefits for both mother and developing baby.

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