Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Expectant Moms, Can the Fish

WebMD Health News

April 12, 2001 (Washington) -- Watchdog groups today filleted up the FDA's fish eating recommendations for pregnant women, offering their own more rigorous standards to minimize the risk of mercury exposure.

Methylmercury is a toxic form of mercury that gathers in fish tissue. Absorbed by the fish from pollution and from other water creatures, it poses health threats to developing brains and nervous systems of unborn babies.

In January, the FDA recommended that pregnant women avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, or ocean whitefish. The agency said these four were the most risky, since they're relatively large and long-lived fish that can carry large amounts of the poison. For other cooked fish, the agency said that women could safely eat about two large servings, or 12 oz, per week.

"What we have emphasized is to avoid these four species and then eat up to 12 oz per week of a variety of different fish, whether it be fish sticks or tuna or whatever," an FDA spokesperson, who asked not to be named, tells WebMD.

But today's report from the Environmental Working Group and U.S. Public Interest Research Group claimed that these guidelines "could expose more than one-fourth of all pregnancies (one million babies) to a potentially harmful dose of methylmercury for at least one month during pregnancy."

Want to chat with other expectant mothers? Check out our Already Pregnant message board.

According to the FDA spokesperson, "We haven't thoroughly reviewed the report, but I'm not sure how they got the numbers, and we certainly didn't get those kinds of numbers.

"We're standing by our advisory as the best public health information that we have at this time, until we see some more data that show that there is some danger to the development of individuals."

In addition to those fish already cited by the FDA, the groups recommend that pregnant women avoid nine others: tuna steaks, sea bass, Gulf Coast oysters, marlin, halibut, pike, walleye, white croaker -- also known as the Pacific croaker -- and largemouth bass.

Walleye and largemouth bass are not widely available retail fish, but sports fish that are largely recreationally caught, notes the FDA.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
healthtool pregnancy calendar
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy