Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sushi and Pregnancy

Is it safe to eat sushi while pregnant? I would say no. Although the chances of getting a parasitic infection from eating sushi are slim, the consequences are severe enough that you wouldn't want to take the risk. Parasites live in the meat of raw fish. While sushi chefs are very careful, that doesn't mean they detect every single parasite. And because pregnancy suppresses your immune system, you're much more susceptible to serious illness from any food-borne organism. A parasitic infection probably couldn't get through the placental barrier, but a parasitic infection could give you liver or gastrointestinal problems that might then affect your baby. Some parasitic infections can lead to anemia or serious malnourishment in the mother or even cause miscarriage. There's also the risk of eating fish that has a marine toxin in it. Bluefish, mackerel, mahi-mahi, and tuna can carry a histamine toxin that may cause flushing, dizziness, and burning of the mouth and throat. But, women also need to remember that not all sushi is uncooked, and most fish contain essential nutrients and vitamins needed for growth and development of their baby. Eating fish that is cooked can help reduce the risk of exposure to certain bacteria. Eating fish that is not on the "high" mercury list is also a way to eat fish safely. The NRDC has compiled a list of fish used in sushi and where they rank in their levels of mercury. Many of the main sushi type fish contain high levels of mercury and should be completely avoided or eaten very rarely. If you have further questions regarding sushi, you should talk with your health care provider to get their recommendation.

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