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Date of last update: 10/14/2017.

Forum Name: Obstetrics

Question: Ate swordfish for 4 times in the month of conception

 zt429700 - Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:56 am


My wife conceived on around Oct. 15. Unfortunately, in the month of conception (October), we ate the swordfish for 4 times (once a week), and my wife has about 6-ounce swordfish each time.

We didn't know that swordfish has a large amount of mercury and should be definitely avoided for pregnancy, according to FDA.

What shall we do then? Is there any testing to check the mercury level in my wife’s body or the baby’s body? When can we find it out, if the baby has been affected by the mercury and become unhealthy?

We never ate swordfish before.

Thank you very much!

Nov. 13, 2008
 Debbie Miller, RN - Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:54 pm

User avatar Hello,
I would not be overly concerned about this. The amount of exposure over time is the more significant factor - as in throughout the pregnancy. While swordfish is one of the larger fish with more likelihood than some others to contain mercury it is possible your wife did not consume contaminated fish. What's more, recently it has been discovered that there appears to be a protective factor in the healthy omega 3 fatty acids found in fish that probably discounts the mercury concerns. At least it appears that the benefits outweigh the risks, based on studies in countries where fish is a mainstay of the diet and women consume large amounts of the potentially contaminated fish. More is sure to come from these studies in the future so, in the meantime, it is good for pregnant women to avoid these types of fish and opt for less contaminated types just to be on the safe side.

The main thing here is, avoid the swordfish, tilefish, shark and king mackerel in the future but do take omega 3 rich fish that are lower in mercury contamination because of the health benefits. Fish oil capsules can also be used. I know of no test to determine this now but the main concern is cumulative so avoiding additional exposure to mercury is the best course of action now.

Not all possible effects of prenatal mercury exposure is even known. It is believed that it would require substantially high levels to actually cause deficits in IQ - higher than what most women might consume.

Try to just enjoy the journey and your baby. Best wishes.

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