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Health & Pregnancy

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Expectant Moms, Can the Fish

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According to the report, "The odds are greater than one in 1,000 that consumption of a single meal of these fish will expose the fetus to a potentially hazardous amount of methylmercury for longer than 30 days."

The groups also recommend that pregnant women eat no more than one serving per month of the following fish: canned tuna, mahi mahi, blue mussel, Eastern oyster, cod, Pollock, Great Lakes salmon, Gulf Coast blue crab, wild Channel catfish, and lake whitefish.

Safe, low-mercury fish options for pregnant women include farm-raised trout, farm-raised catfish, shrimp, fish sticks, summer flounder, wild Pacific salmon, croaker -- also known as the Atlantic croaker -- mid-Atlantic blue crab, and haddock.

The groups report was based on nearly 60,000 mercury tests on fish from a range of government agencies. And they used a tougher mercury safety standard than the one the FDA deems acceptable. They also claimed that the FDA's January bulletin recommendations to women were based on mercury levels measured in 1979, even though the toxin has since become more widespread.

According to the report, the FDA's mercury standards are designed to protect an average adult -- not a pregnant woman or her baby. Last month, the CDC reported that 10% of women of childbearing age already had high mercury levels. The report also complained that the FDA doesn't require seafood companies to test for mercury in fish.

In January, the General Accounting Office criticized the laxness of the FDA's seafood safety program.

But the National Food Processor Association says the new mercury report is a bit of a fish story.

In a statement today, the group said that the FDA was "a more credible source of advice and information on health and safety issues." It claimed that many health experts "worry that Americans do not eat enough seafood and have expressed concern that mercury 'warnings' might frighten people away from fish that can be an important part of a healthful diet."

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