The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidelines regarding fish consumption for pregnant women. However, scientists discard these guidelines and condemn them as outdated.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzed the guidelines and found that they may put babies at risk. They performed a study on 254 women who, according to the guidelines, ate fish at least two times every week. Then they measured the levels of mercury in their hair and assessed the neurotoxin levels present in their bodies.
They observed that almost 30 percent of participants were too exposed. Much of this exposure was related to the consumption of tuna. However, tuna is labeled in the guidelines as “Best” or “Good Choices”.
Sonya Lunder, EWG scientist, suggests that the research is meant to show that the women who follow the guidelines are consuming dangerous amounts of mercury. This is important to know for women who are planning to have a baby or those who are already pregnant, since such quantities of mercury are dangerous for the baby.
The same research found that 47 percent of the exposure of the Americans to methylmercury comes from tuna. Then it is followed by canned albacore with 20 percent, canned light with 19 percent, and frozen sushi with 8 percent.
Dr. Edward Groth agrees that consuming fish during pregnancy can be good for the brain development, but any small amount of mercury can cause twice as much damage. The advice FDA proposes is outdated and is now disproven by more recent studies.
FDA’s advice on fish consumption is based on “Reference Dose”, which was issued in 1999. According to this, the quantity of mercury found in their diet was supposedly not harmful, but other recent studies proved the opposite. Moreover, the FDA guidelines do not mention other benefits that may come from consuming fish in the optimal amount. Their approach is far too lenient and not up to date with the science of today.
Advocates commented on the FDA guidelines. They stated that, since they continuously promoted tuna consumption as beneficial although there was proof of the contrary, they must be more interested in the profit of the fishing industry and not in the health and well-being of their present and future citizens.
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