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Q&A: Is it Safe To Eat Seafood?

Bradley G. Goldberg, M.D.


Q I am 11 1/2 weeks pregnant and just recently read about the concerns with seafood and pregnant women. Without thinking last week, I went out to dinner and ate whitefish. I have been looking for information on whether whitefish has dangerous mercury levels or not for my baby. Can you help?

A It is unfortunate but true that some fish these days are contaminated with toxins such as mercury. However, I would stop short of banning seafood in pregnancy. I think that it is O.K. as long as you follow certain precautions.

Usually fish from the ocean, such as flounder or tuna does not pose as much of a problem as would fish caught from local streams or lakes. These are the most likely to be contaminated, especially in highly industrialized areas or in rural areas with lots of agriculture. Another safe source of fish and seafood is "farm raised", these fish are much less likely to be contaminated.

A good idea would be for you to check with your local health department, or with the Food and Drug Administration for a list of possibly contaminated fish or ponds in your area, you may even be able to find this information on-line.

It is also important to make sure that the fish you eat is properly cooked. Any undercooked meat, including seafood, can contribute to illness. If you like sushi, try and stick with the cooked varieties, or make sure that the sushi you are eating has been "flash frozen". This is a freezing process that should kill most parasites.

Good luck, and Bon Appetite!

Bradley G. Goldberg, M.D.,
Chief of Staff, CRMC
Coffee Women's Center, P.C.

Dr. Bradley G Goldberg is a specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Goldberg is certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Goldberg is Chief of Staff of Coffee Regional Medical Center. Currently, he is serving as Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and he is the Chairman of the Perinatal Committee. Dr. Goldberg graduated from the University of Florida in 1989 as a member of The Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He received his medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine, and completed his internship and residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgia Baptist Medical Center in Atlanta. Dr. Goldberg is a contributing author to, the largest women's health site on the Internet. In addition, Dr. Goldberg is the author of an article on "Urethral Carcinoma," which is in press with the Journal of Urology, and he co-produced an instructional video on Norplant removal that he presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dr. Goldberg is a member of the American Medical Association, The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, The Medical Association of Georgia, and The Atlanta Medical Association. Dr. Goldberg's wife Kimberly is a pediatric nurse. Together, they enjoy traveling and spending time with their family.

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