Pregnant people need to be careful about which fish they eat to avoid mercury exposure and food poisoning. However, shrimp is safe to eat and can provide beneficial nutrients as part of a healthy diet.
Doctors may recommend that people avoid eating some fish and seafood during pregnancy to protect themselves and the fetus. However, eating some types of fish and seafood, such as shrimp, during pregnancy can be beneficial.
This article looks at the health guidelines and advice around eating shrimp during pregnancy.
Shrimp is safe to eat during pregnancy.
According to the National Institute of Health, shellfish and fish contain different levels of mercury, which can harm the fetus. Shrimp contains low levels of mercury making it safe to eat during pregnancy.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues advice about eating fish and shellfish during pregnancy. This advice helps people make informed choices about the healthiest types to eat.
Shrimp appears on the
Nutrition plays a vital role during pregnancy and lactation, supporting the health of both the birth parent and child.
These nutrients include:
- omega -3 fatty acids, such as ocosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- omega-6 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids may improve pregnancy outcomes in some people. According to a 2018 review, compared to those who did not consume omega-3, those who consumed omega-3 fatty acids from food, such as oily fish, or supplements experienced reduced:
- preterm birth
- perinatal death
- neonatal care admission
For people who do not eat fish, such as vegans or those following a plant-based diet, omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are available as algal supplements.
Fish also provides extra nutrients for the immune system and healthy growth and development. For example, a
- 20.4 grams (g) protein
- 59.5 milligrams (mg) calcium
- 1.39 mg zinc
According to the
- 8 ounces per week for an 1800–2000 calorie per day intake
- 9 ounces per week for a 2200 calorie per day intake
- 10 ounces per week for a 2400–2800 calorie per day intake
Best choices of seafood
The following are some examples of the
Additionally, good choices to include less often include halibut, snapper, and tuna. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that a pregnant person eats only one serving of albacore tuna a week. This equates to no more than 6 ounces per week.
Cleaning or cooking fish does not remove mercury, so people need to choose lower-mercury types. Other contaminants may also be present in fish, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and vary by location and fish species.
People who catch their own fish should check contaminants with advisories before eating them.
Avoid higher mercury seafood
Those who are pregnant or lactating should avoid eating the
- king mackerel
- orange roughy
- bigeye tuna
Avoid raw seafood
Raw seafood may contain parasites or bacteria, including Listeria, making pregnant people ill and potentially harming the fetus.
Therefore, those who are pregnant should avoid the following:
- raw oysters
- raw clams
- raw scallops
Take care with smoked seafood
Foodsafety.gov advises that seafood that manufacturers have smoked and refrigerated may contain Listeria. Pregnant people should avoid smoked seafood unless someone has cooked it in a dish that has a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (about 73.89°C).
Retailers may sometimes label smoked fish as:
Shrimp is safe to eat during pregnancy as it contains low levels of mercury.
In addition, pregnant people should avoid raw seafood and be careful with fish that manufacturers have smoked and refrigerated. They should only consume smoked seafood if they cook it thoroughly and it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF (about 73.89°C).