Why Pregnant Women Should Avoid Fish

woman-eating-fish-photowoman-eating-fish-photoRecent stories about radioactive Japanese tuna from last year's Fukushima meltdown showing up 6,000 miles away on California's shores has put my family off sushi for a while. But if you're pregnant, this is a story you should follow.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says the radiation is nothing to worry about in the United States, since you'd have to eat pounds of the stuff before being affected. But according to a 2011 Government Accountability Study, the FDA only inspects 1 percent of the fish we import for consumption-meaning the FDA might not know if the other 99 percent is radioactive or not.

And according to Consumer Reports, 80 percent of the fish we eat comes from other countries where, "about half of that is farmed fish, which may contain disease-causing bacteria, residues of antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals."

Regardless of where they come from, if you're pregnant, you need to know that most big fish - including yellow fin tuna, which is more common in the United States - contain mercury, a neurotoxic byproduct of coal production. The scary thing about mercury, besides the fact that it damages the brain and central nervous system, is that it stays in the body and can be passed on to our kids through pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Guide make finding safer fish choices easier than ever, but you may want to consider additional protein sources while you're pregnant or nursing.

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Rachel SarnoffAbout the Author:

Rachel Sarnoff blogs at MommyGreenest.com, founded EcoStiletto.com, appeared on "Today" and "CNN," is the former Executive Director of Healthy Child Healthy World & was Editor-in-Chief of Children magazine-all before she had kids.

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