Murkowski: Pregnant Women Should Eat More Fish

From a Lisa Murkowski press release:

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today spoke on the growing body of research showing that pregnant women should be eating more fish during their pregnancies.

Alaska salmon

New research, including a recent FDA report, shows that pregnant women aren't eating enough seafood and that babies benefit significantly when their mothers eat plenty of fish during pregnancy. The research indicates that the typical low seafood American diet actually hinders optimal brain development among babies.

"During the last trimester of pregnancy, the fetus's brain and nervous system develop rapidly, requiring a type of omega-3 fat," Murkowski said. "It is essential and can only come from the food the mother is eating. Fish is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, and two servings of seafood a week will generally meet this need."

Murkowski, a member of the Senate Health Committee, made her remarks at a Capitol Hill heath briefing on pregnant women and fish consumption sponsored by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.

"Even though the omega-3 needs can be met by eating fish twice a week, American woman eat well below the amount of fish needed for optimum health," Murkowski said. "On average, pregnant women eat only 2 ounces of fish per week and 30 percent of women don't eat any fish at all. Health experts recommend that pregnant women eat a variety of 12 ounces of seafood each week."

Murkowski noted that one of the reasons why many mothers tend not to eat seafood, or reduce their seafood consumption when pregnant, is fear of mercury.

"Almost all seafood has some traces of mercury, but there are many studies and a wealth of nutritional information available with the facts on eating seafood when pregnant, the proper amounts to eat and the health benefits of doing so," she said.

A recent draft FDA report underscored the importance and benefits of increased seafood consumption by pregnant women.

"This report has been peer-reviewed and supported by many independent scientific experts and I hope it will help clear up some of the confusion that has led so many women to avoid fish while pregnant or stop eating it all together," Murkowski said.

Murkowski also said that eating seafood is not just for healthy babies, but that low-fat high-protein fish also is good for a pregnant woman's brain, heart and weight.

"A diet high in seafood may also help prevent and manage post-partum depression," Murkowski said. "Low levels of omega-3s are associated with low levels of the brain chemical serotonin, and low levels of serotonin are linked to depression."

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