Have you heard the news? Fish is back in for pregnant women, according to a just-released report from the National Coalition for Infant Health (NCIH). Yep — despite past warnings about too much mercury being harmful to growing fetuses, women can now “unequivocally” eat cooked fish while pregnant. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for American are now recommending that pregnant women eat fish multiple times per week.
So awesome! Hooray for fish! Oh, unless you read that other fish-during-pregnancy study that was published just a few months ago by JAMA Pediatrics. You know, the one that claimed pregnant women who eat too much fish risk having children with a higher propensity towards obesity.
Um … what?
This latest study, by the NCIH, asserts that Omega-3s are essential for a mother’s brain and heart health — and the need for it increases during the last couple of months of pregnancy when “the fetus’s brain and nervous system rapidly develops, requiring about 65 milligrams a day of omega-3.” But according to Leda Chatzi of the University of Crete, Greece, who spoke to CNN in February after the anti-fish study came out, pregnant women who eat more than three servings a week of fish are exposing their fetus to “persistent organic pollutants, which may exert endocrine-disrupting properties and contribute to the development of obesity,”
Got all that? No? Well, you’re probably not alone. If you’re a parent or an expectant one who has paid even the slightest bit of attention to pregnancy-related studies over the years, then you couldn’t be blamed for feeling … well, pretty confused right now.
But eating fish while pregnant isn’t the only hot topic the experts are in conflict over.
Let’s say you’re pregnant and want a glass of drink red wine. According to a 2013 study published in the BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, that’s A-OK — if you limit your consumption to one or two glasses of vino a week. In fact, in New York City, it’s now a crime for a bar or restaurant to not serve you. It’s your right to drink — child in utero or not. But then there’s this: The Centers for Disease Control has said that absolutely no amount of alcohol during pregnancy is advisable.
Then there’s the matter of folate and B12 vitamins, both of which have long been known to be essential nutrients for expectant moms … right?
Well, yes. But also no.
Because as it turns out, taking too much of each and your child has a higher risk of developing autism. In fact, a just-released study from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School’s Wendy Klag Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities revealed taking too much folate can double the risk of autism. On the other hand, folate is also needed to keep the placenta intact and prevent neural tube defects, including spina bifida. And B12 is highly recommended to accompany folate.
So … WTF?
If a pregnant woman did nothing but read studies all day about what she should and shouldn’t do, no one could blame her for stopping after just one kid. And if a childless woman decided those very same studies all day? Well … we’d soon be extinct.
I mean really, it’s amazing that we’re all here, given how information is currently available about how much our mothers could have harmed us while we were in their bellies. Then again, before there was study after study confirming what we thought we knew, and then contradicting it all the next day, our parents and grandparents likely just went on instinct. And hey, maybe that was all for the better.
That all being said, if you’re going to read any one study while pregnant, this one should probably be it: Pregnant women risk health due to information overload.More On