Disease Proof

Smarter Babies, Mom Eat Fish?

“Fish, mollusks and shellfish, and sushi.” What are they? If you answered seafood—you’re right—but they’re also four of the foods Dr. Fuhrman suggests avoiding when you’re pregnant. Here’s the entire list:
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine, including secondhand smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs
  • Herbs and high-dose supplements, vitamin A
  • Fish, mollusks and shellfish, sushi (raw fish)
  • Hot tubs and saunas
  • Radiation
  • Household clear, paint thinners
  • Cat litter (because of an infectious disease called toxoplasmosis caused by a parasite found in cat feces)
  • Raw milk and cheese
  • Soft cheese and blue-veined cheeses such as feta, Roquefort, and Brie
  • Artificial colors, nitrates, and MSG
  • Deli meats, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and undercooked meats
Makes you wonder why on earth research would insinuate that eating fish is good for pregnant moms. Reuters reports:
Researchers found that among 341 3-year-olds, those whose mothers ate more than two servings of fish per week during pregnancy generally performed better on tests of verbal, visual and motor development.


On the other hand, tests scores were lower among preschoolers whose mothers had relatively high mercury levels in their blood during pregnancy.

And mothers who regularly ate fish during pregnancy were more likely to have such mercury levels than non-fish-eaters were, the researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The findings add to evidence that fish can be brain-food, but underscore the importance of choosing lower-mercury fish during pregnancy.
Why risk the mercury at all? Just because some fish is “low-mercury” doesn’t mean it’s mercury-free. Again, why roll the dice if you’re pregnant. More from Dr. Fuhrman:
Higher levels of mercury found in mothers who eat more fish have been associated with birth defects, seizures, mental retardation, developmental disabilities, and cerebral palsy.1 This is mostly the result of women having eaten fish when they were pregnant. Scientists believe that fetuses are much more sensitive to mercury exposure than adults, although adults do suffer from varying degrees of brain damage from fish consumption.2 Even the FDA, which normally ignores reports on the dangers of our dangerous food practices, acknowledges that large fish such as shark, swordfish, and yellowfin and bluefin tuna, are potentially dangerous. Researchers are also concerned about other toxins concentrated in fish that can cause brain damage way before the cancers caused by chemical-carrying fish appear.
It seems more responsible to do with out the fish, than chance it—what do you think?


1. Shamlaye, C. F., D. O. Marsh, G. J. Myers, et al. 1995. The Seychelles Child Development Study on neurodevelopmental outcomes in children following in utero exposure to methylmercury from a maternal fish diet: background and demographics. Neurotoxicology 16 (4): 597-612; Rylander L., U. Stromberg, and L. Hagmar. 1996. Dietary intake of fish contaminated with persistent organochlorine compounds in relation to low birthweight. Scand. J. Work Environ. Health 2 (4): 260-66; Does methylmercury have a role in causing developmental disabilities in children? 2000. Environ. Health Perspect. 108 (supp.3): 413-20.

2. Clarkson, T.W. 1997. The toxicology of mercury. Crit. Rev. Clin. Lab. Sci. 34(4):369-403.
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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
islandveggie - April 3, 2008 10:42 PM

What does Dr. Fuhrman think of the use of flax oils or Vegetarian based DHA oils during pregnancy? I have heard mixed reports.

shorty - April 23, 2009 2:31 PM

Asians eat a lot of fish even when pregnant.They have smart kids.In fact they eat more than what American and British doctors would recommend.As long as you're not over doing it and eating fish in moderation. Then there's nothing to worry about.

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