Which kinds of fish are unsafe to eat during pregnancy?

Our experts answer your pregnancy questions

Crispy fish on a plate
I wish there was a simple answer to that question. It depends on where you bought it or caught it and how much of it you eat.

Larger fish and certain species of fish tend to accumulate more mercury. Even though mercury is naturally found in the environment, pollution can add to it and make some fish entirely unsafe for pregnant women and other fish safe only if you limit how often you eat it.

The FDA has made a handy list of fish just for pregnant women. It’s broken down by best choices, good choices and don’t-choose-it-at-all, based on mercury levels. You can find it here.

It also covers seafood like shrimp, clams and scallops. Good news for you shellfish lovers: Most of it appears on the “best choices” list.

If it’s fish you caught yourself, the Minnesota Department of Health lists what species you can eat and how often, based on which lake or river it came from. There’s a separate list for species caught on Lake Superior.

Even if a specific species of fish is OK, it’s not safe for pregnant women if it’s not properly handled or cooked. Raw, rare, or smoked fish is risky. Cook fish until it gets to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, is opaque, and flakes with a fork.

Melissa Kitzman, certified nurse-midwife
Fairview Clinics – Bloomington, Oxboro
Fairview Center for Women – Edina

To learn more:
Make an appointment with a midwife or OB doctor or book a tour at The Birthplace.

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