When fully cooked, crab or imitation crab can usually be eaten in moderation by someone who is pregnant.

When a woman is expecting, the foods she eats, medications she takes, and even chemicals from the products she puts on her skin can potentially cross the placenta to the baby.

Due to concerns over mercury consumption, there are several seafood products pregnant women should not eat.

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According to 2017 recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), cooked crab is one of the best seafood choices to eat while pregnant.

The FDA also noted that it is most beneficial to eat a wide variety of fish.

A pregnant woman should not eat raw crab, however. Eating raw crab increases the risk for food poisoning, particularly in older adults, children, and pregnant women.

Imitation crab is cooked, so it is usually safe for a pregnant woman to eat. However, it is crucial to ask if there are other raw products in foods, such as sushi, before eating them.

Imitation crab is typically less expensive than real crab and contains pollock, egg whites, artificial flavoring, and sugar.

While this combination may taste similarly to crab, it is not as nutritious as crab itself.

Imitation crab is low in omega-3 fatty acids that are especially beneficial during pregnancy. However, imitation crab is similar in calories and protein to authentic crab.

Seafood is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Experts state that eating at least 8 ounces of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids per week can benefit the growing baby.

These benefits include reducing the risk of premature delivery and fostering brain and vision development.

The FDA recommend eating 2 to 3 servings per week of cooked, low-mercury fish choices, such as:

  • catfish
  • crab
  • crawfish
  • freshwater trout
  • haddock
  • lobster
  • pollock
  • salmon
  • scallops
  • shrimp
  • whitefish

Pregnant women can also have 1 serving per week of the following:

  • bluefish
  • carp
  • Chilean sea bass
  • mahi-mahi
  • snapper
  • tilefish
  • tuna (albacore, white, or yellowfin)

It is essential to cook the above seafood, especially during pregnancy, to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

Seafood to avoid

People should not eat seafood that is usually served raw during pregnancy. These foods include sashimi, raw oysters, clams on the half shell, ceviche, poke, tuna tartare, or tuna carpaccio.

Pregnant women should avoid fish high in mercury. These fish include:

  • mackerel
  • shark
  • swordfish
  • tilefish
  • marlin
  • orange roughy
  • tuna (big eye)

Consuming raw fish and shellfish can cause food poisoning, as they may contain the bacteria Salmonella and Vibrio vulnificus. Symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

In addition to the dangers surrounding raw food, a person should take precautions when preparing seafood and crab.

Safe food handling and preparation is vital when eating crab, fish, or any raw meat.

People should store live crabs in well-ventilated containers and fresh crab in a refrigerator at less than 40°F or well-packed in ice. Storage containers should be airtight.

When preparing raw crab, it is essential to keep raw and cooked seafood on separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils.

In addition to these risks, exposure to mercury can be toxic to a fetus. It can lead to neurological problems and congenital abnormalities.

As a result, avoiding high-mercury fish is vital for keeping the fetus healthy and safe.

When cooked, both crab and imitation crab are safe to eat during pregnancy. Practicing careful food preparation and always cooking seafood thoroughly are other ways people can protect themselves and the growing fetus from food poisoning dangers.

Avoiding high-mercury fish, such as shark and swordfish, is also essential to ensure a person avoids any harm to their developing baby.