Can Pregnant Women Eat Shrimp? Yes, but not all seafood is safe


  • It is safe for pregnant women to eat 8 to 12 ounces of shrimp each week because they are low in mercury and contain healthy nutrients like protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and iron.
  • Pregnant women can also safely eat low-mercury seafood like clams, cod, haddock, scallops and sardines.
  • But pregnant women should avoid all seafood high in mercury, including king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, swordfish, and bigeye tuna.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference Library for more tips.

With pregnancy comes a whole new set of health guidelines to make sure you and your baby are in great shape. It is important to be aware of everything you put into your body during pregnancy and how it affects the baby.

There are well-known dietary restrictions, such as dropping alcohol, but the lines are blurry when it comes to seafood. Here is what you need to know about consuming shrimp and other seafood during pregnancy.

Yes, it is safe to eat shrimp during pregnancy.

It’s safe to eat shrimp during pregnancy, says Jonathan Schaffir, MD, OB / GYN at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. According to Schaffir, there’s no hard limit on how much shrimp you can eat, as long as the shrimp are fully cooked.

Shrimp are actually one of the safest seafood options for pregnant women because they are low in mercury compared to other types of seafood. Schaffir says fully cooked shrimp won’t pose. risk for pregnant women, but any uncooked seafood can cause intestinal infection or hepatitis.

Shrimp are rich in nutrients that can be beneficial for pregnancy, such as protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and iron. According to the FDA, pregnant women can consume eight to 12 ounces of low-mercury seafood, such as shrimp, each week.

Other seafood that is safe to eat include:

  • Clams
  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • Cutlets
  • Sardines

Find a complete list of seafood that is safe to eat while pregnant here.

Seafood to avoid during pregnancy

While there are many seafood options that are beneficial and nutritious during pregnancy, certain seafood should be avoided, especially seafood that is high in mercury. Mercury is a toxin that is harmful to the brain and nervous system of the developing fetus, Schaffir explains.

Mercury is likely to accumulate in larger, long-lived fish. Fish high in mercury include:

  • king mackerel
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tile fish
  • Bigeye tuna

Find a full list of seafood to avoid during pregnancy here.

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to these fish. “These fish should be avoided during pregnancy. However, if someone had a serving and then found out she was pregnant, that wouldn’t be a reason to panic, as one serving is probably not dangerous,” Schaffir explains. .

Schaffir says that high levels of mercury may increase the risk of the following conditions to the fetus:

  • Brain damage
  • Developmental delay
  • Intellectual disability
  • Blindness
  • Muscular weakness

Insider’s takeaway

Shrimp are one of the safest seafood options to eat during pregnancy, and the nutrients in shrimp are beneficial for both mother and baby. Just make sure the shrimp are cooked through so you don’t get sick.

And while there are other low-mercury seafood options that are safe to eat during pregnancy, you should try to avoid eating high-mercury fish altogether.

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Tanya S. Norvell