Seafood in pregnancy: what risks does its consumption have and what precautions should you take

Fish and shellfish provide important nutrients during pregnancy, mainly iodine and omega-3 fatty acids , which contribute to the development of the baby’s brain . However, if you are pregnant you should avoid eating certain large fish because of their high mercury content, and never eat raw or under cooked fish.

In the case of seafood, the recommendation is the same. You do not have to deprive yourself of good prawns or mussels, but if you are going to eat shellfish at some point in your pregnancy, it is essential that you cook it carefully.

what is seafood

First, let’s define which animals it includes. Shellfish is any invertebrate marine animal and, especially, the edible mollusk or crustacean.

This group includes crustaceans (shrimps, prawns, clams, lobster, crabs, barnacles, etc.); molluscs (mussels, oysters, cockles, clams, baby squid, octopus, etc.) and other marine animals such as sea urchins.

Mercury in fish and shellfish

Mercury is an environmental contaminant present in soil, air and water, which naturally transforms into methylmercury (MeHg) and accumulates in the tissues of fish and shellfish. The main source of exposure to methylmercury toxicity is through the consumption of fish and shellfish .

Methylmercury can easily cross the placenta and the baby’s blood-brain barrier, affecting their developing central nervous system and potentially causing brain damage and learning difficulties.

As for shellfish, they can be classified into those species of molluscs, shellfish and crustaceans with low mercury content: cockles, octopus, squid, giant squid, baby squid, cuttlefish/cuttlefish, prawns, shrimp, lobster, Norway lobster, prawns, razor clams, mussels, coquina, shrimp, clam/clam, crab, and ca├▒adilla.

And in the rest of the species not mentioned, they are considered to have a medium content . The consumption of fish and shellfish with a low content of methylmercury does not pose a risk, and those with a medium content can be consumed, but in moderation.

Don’t eat raw seafood

Pregnant women can eat shellfish, but they should never eat it raw and/or smoked, or that is not well cooked, as it may contain toxic substances or bacteria such as listeria , harmful to the development of the baby.

In the case of cephalopod molluscs such as octopus, cuttlefish or squid, it is very important that they are well cooked due to the risk of anisakis , a worm-shaped parasite that lives in the digestive tract of fish, cephalopods and marine mammals.

Recommendations for the consumption of seafood:

  • Make sure that the seafood you are going to consume is well cooked at high temperatures (over 70┬║) and avoid eating them in places that do not guarantee you trust.
  • Eat seafood in moderation , occasionally.
  • Before consuming them at home, freeze them for at least three days .
  • Do not suck on the heads of prawns and prawns because they contain a high content of cadmium, a metal capable of causing kidney failure.
  • The best way to eat seafood is grilled or cooked .

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