Skip to main content
  Pregnancy eMagazine

Fish, your baby and you

Since it's a good, low-fat source of protein and other nutrients, seafood is an important part of a balanced diet for pregnant women. But some fish have high levels of mercury that can harm an unborn child's developing nervous system.

That's why pregnant women should eat no more than 12 ounces of cooked fish per week.

  • A typical serving of fish is three to six ounces; that's around two to four servings a week.
  • If you eat more than 12 ounces one week, cut back on seafood the next week or two.

Pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children should not eat these large fish; they contain extra high levels of mercury:

  • king mackerel
  • muskellunge
  • northern pike longer than 30 inches
  • shark
  • swordfish
  • tile fish
  • walleye longer than 20 inches

Related Links


Source: Minnesota Department of Health, An expectant mother's guide to eating Minnesota fish; United States Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, What you need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish

First published: 08/28/2003
Last updated: 05/12/2008

Reviewed by: Michael Slama, MD, Allina Health Mercy Women's Health Clinic