Posts Tagged ‘mercury’

Nothing fishy about eating fish during pregnancy

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

When you’re pregnant, there are a few foods you need to avoid or limit. Fish can be a great part of healthy eating during pregnancy, but it’s important to eat the right kinds of fish in the right amounts. Let’s break it down — here are a few things you need to know about eating fish during pregnancy.

What can you do to get the health benefits of fish during pregnancy in a safe way?

You have probably heard that fish has a lot of health benefits. Studies suggest that eating fish during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy). Healthy fats in fish also help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. These healthy fats are called omega- 3 fatty acids.

During pregnancy, eat fish that is low in mercury. Mercury is a metal that can be dangerous. Fish get mercury from the water they swim in and from eating other fish. Fish that are low in mercury include:

  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Shrimp
  • Tilapia
  • Crab
  • Catfish

How much fish is safe to eat each week?

During pregnancy, eat 8 to 12 ounces a week of fish that doesn’t have a lot of mercury. If your portions are small, you can eat fish three times a week, but only two times a week if your portions are bigger. Here are some examples:

Your menu for eating fish three times a week could look like this:

  • 4 ounces of salmon
  • 4 ounces of light tuna (a small can, drained)
  • 2 ounces of shrimp (about seven medium-sized shrimp)

Your menu for eating two times a week could look like this:

  • 6 ounces of tilapia
  • 3 ounces of crab cake

Practical tip: To measure your portion size, hover your hand on top of the piece of fish. A four-ounce piece of fish should be about the same size as the palm of your hand.

Some types of fish are not as low in mercury as other types. It’s OK to eat up to 6 ounces of these fish each week during pregnancy:

  • Albacore (white) tuna
  • Halibut
  • Snapper
  • Mahi-mahi

What type of fish do you need to avoid during pregnancy?

Don’t eat fish that are high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Always check with your local health department before you eat any fish you catch yourself. Avoid undercooked or raw fish, like sushi, raw oyster and tuna tartare.

For more information about eating healthy during pregnancy visit marchofdimes.org

Fish safety during pregnancy: what to eat or avoid

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Mercury is a metal that can harm your baby. Fish get mercury from the water they swim in and from eating other fish that have mercury in them. By eating fish that contain mercury, the metal can pass to your baby during pregnancy. This can cause brain damage and affect your baby’s hearing and vision. However, it can be difficult to know which fish is safe to eat and which should be limited or avoided. Fortunately, the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) have created a chart that classifies fish into three categories:

  • Best choices: eat 2-3 servings a week
  • Good choices: eat 1 serving a week
  • Choices to avoid: high mercury levels, best to avoid completely

Nearly 90 percent of fish eaten in the United States fall into the best choices category, according to the FDA and EPA. So make sure you get the recommended 2-3 servings of fish per week from the “Best choices” category, or 8 to 12 ounces total (12 ounces maximum).

 

FDA

 

Avoid mercury in skin care products

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

rubbing-nosesMost pregnant women know to avoid mercury from certain fish as it could harm a developing baby. But did you know that some skin care products contain mercury? Mercury may be found in skin creams, lotions and certain soaps. It is also found in some skin-lightening creams made outside of the U.S.

According to the FDA, “Some people – including pregnant women, nursing babies and young children – are especially vulnerable to mercury toxicity…Babies may be particularly sensitive to the harm mercury can cause to their developing brains and nervous systems. Newborns who nurse are vulnerable because mercury is passed into breast milk.”

FDA senior medical advisor Arthur Simone, M.D. says “Your family might breathe mercury vapors released from these products. Your children might touch washcloths or towels that are contaminated with mercury. It could be as simple as touching someone’s cheek or face.”

How do you know if your product contains mercury?

Check the list of ingredients, and do not use the product if any of these words are listed: “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury.”

The FDA further warns that if there is no product label or list of ingredients, do not use it. They say “Federal law requires that ingredients be listed on the label of any cosmetic or nonprescription drug, so do not use a product that doesn’t have a label.”

Why is mercury dangerous?

Mercury is a metal which can damage many parts of your body, including your lungs, kidneys and nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves). It also can cause hearing and vision problems. How serious the damage is depends on how much mercury you’re exposed to. Babies exposed to mercury in the womb can have brain damage and hearing and vision problems.

Where else is mercury found?

You can be exposed to mercury through your skin (lotions or creams), the air (by breathing it) and eating or drinking food or water that contains mercury. See our article for more details about where mercury may be found and ways to stay safe.

Have questions? Text or email our health education specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Keeping breast milk safe

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

mom breastfeedingThere are a few things you need to take into consideration if you are breastfeeding or pumping your breast milk, in addition to
avoiding alcohol while breastfeeding.

Caffeine

Consuming coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas in moderation is fine if you are breastfeeding or pumping. If you find that your baby is fussy or irritable when you consume a lot of caffeine (usually more than 5 caffeinates beverages per day) you should consider decreasing your consumption. Keep in mind that caffeine can be found in:

• Coffee and coffee-flavored products, like yogurt and ice cream
• Tea
• Soft drinks
• Chocolate and chocolate products, such as syrup and hot cocoa
• Medications used for pain relief, migraines and colds

The amount of caffeine in different products varies as well, depending on how it was prepared and served (such as an espresso or latte beverage.) Make sure you check packaging for the number of milligrams of caffeine in one serving.

Mercury

You probably knew during your pregnancy to avoid eating fish that contains high amounts of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. The same is true while you are breastfeeding. Including fish in your diet is a good way to get protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids, so eat fish that contain less mercury, like canned light tuna, shrimp, salmon, Pollock and catfish.

Medications

Some prescription medicines, such as those to help you sleep, painkillers and drugs used to treat cancer or migraine headaches, aren’t safe to take while breastfeeding. Others, like certain kinds of birth control, may affect the amount of breast milk you make. Read our post on medications and breastfeeding and speak with your provider about any over-the-counter and prescriptions medications you are taking.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can make breastfeeding unsafe for your baby. These include:

• If your baby has galactosemia, a genetic condition where your baby can’t digest the sugar in breast milk.
• If you have HIV.
• If you have cancer and are getting treated with medicine or radiation.
• If you have human T-cell lymphotropic virus. This is a virus that can cause blood cancer and nerve problems.
• If you have untreated, active tuberculosis. This is an infection that mainly affects the lungs.
• If you have Ebola, a rare but very serious disease that can cause heavy bleeding, organ failure and death.

Smoking and street drugs

Don’t smoke. Nicotine, a drug found in cigarettes can pass to your baby through breast milk and make him fussy and have a hard time sleeping. It can also reduce your milk supply so your baby may not get the milk he needs.

Don’t take street drugs, like heroin and cocaine. You can pass these substances to your baby through breast milk.

Tell your provider if you need help to quit smoking or using street drugs.

Bottom Line

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need support, read our article on how to receive help with breastfeeding.

 

 

Mercury in fish

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

fish for dinnerYou may have heard it’s important to eat fish.  But then again, you may have heard fish can be dangerous, don’t eat it when you’re pregnant.  What’s the deal with that?

Fish is an easy-to-prepare food. It is high in protein, low in fat and full of heart-healthy nutrients. But pollution in our oceans, lakes, rivers and streams is leaving some fish with toxic levels of mercury, which is especially damaging to fetuses, babies and children.

If a woman is exposed to high levels of mercury before or while she is pregnant, her health and the baby’s health are threatened. High levels of mercury can cause brain damage and affect a baby’s hearing and vision.

So, how much fish can a pregnant woman safely eat?  To start with, you should not eat fish that can be high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. But you can safely eat up to 12 ounces a week of shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish and canned light tuna. It’s also OK to eat 6 ounces a week of albacore (white) tuna. All fish should be cooked to avoid any possible parasites or bacteria so, if you’re pregnant, skip the raw oysters, sushi and sashimi for now.

By following these guidelines, you can obtain the health benefits of eating fish, while reducing your baby’s exposure to mercury.