Federal committee encourages tuna consumption for pregnant women

Related articles

Isolated Tuna CanLast year we wrote about the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency altering their recommendations on fish consumption and telling women who are pregnant or breast-feeding young children to eat at least two servings (about six to eight ounces) of low-mercury seafood each week. And now, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) is sparking the debate again, this time with a focus on albacore tuna (the type typically found in canned tuna).

In their 2015 scientific report, the advisory committee reiterated the recommendation that Americans should eat a wide variety of seafood, along with suggesting that the FDA and EPA re-evaluate their recommendation on tuna for pregnant women. They stated that even when pregnant women ate twice the recommended weekly serving of tuna, the benefits outweighed the risks. Fish has developmental and health benefits to women and their babies that often cannot be derived from taking a supplement.

This suggestion has, of course, upset many advocacy groups who are concerned about the level of mercury in tuna. However, Dr. Steve Abrams, medical director of the Neonatal Nutrition Program at Baylor College of Medicine said, The benefit of having (omega-3 fatty acids) in your diet really exceeds the likely risk of contamination. The point is that you should have a variety of types of seafood and not limit yourself to one type, and variety includes canned tuna. He also assured that the evidence was strong for fish consumption by pregnant women aiding the brain development of fetuses and nursing infants.

ACSH s Ariel Savransky adds, This is going to add to the confusion that pregnant women already have regarding fish consumption, with all the mixed messages out there. It is going to take effective educational efforts to counter the previously held beliefs conveyed to women that they should not be consuming fish during pregnancy and to allay the fears they have. Without such efforts, pregnant women will not know what to make of the guidelines and will likely stay away from fish completely.