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Los mariscos en el embarazo pueden ser una fuente rica de nutrientes esenciales, beneficiando tanto a la madre como al bebé.

Can seafood be eaten during pregnancy?

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During pregnancy it is important to pay attention to diet to ensure the well-being of both mother and developing baby. Among the foods that raise doubts and concerns are seafood, due to the possibility of containing potentially harmful substances. Here we answer one of the most common questions at this stage: Can seafood be eaten during pregnancy? Is it safe? Are there any risks for pregnant women when eating seafood? What risks do they face?

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Benefits of seafood in pregnancy

Seafood is one type of food that can play an important role in nutrition during pregnancy, thanks to its rich composition of essential nutrients that support both the mother and the baby’s development. Among these nutrients, the high quality proteins offered by seafood are essential for cell growth and tissue repair, which are crucial during pregnancy.

In addition, seafood provides essential minerals such as zinc, vital for the immune system and cell development, and B vitamins, including vitamin B12, essential for the formation of red blood cells and for the development of the nervous system of the foetus. This combination of vitamins and minerals supports the mother’s overall well-being and helps to reduce the risk of certain complications during pregnancy.

However, one of the greatest benefits of seafood lies in its omega-3 fatty acid content, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This component is key to the neurological and visual development of the foetus. Several studies have suggested that an adequate intake of DHA during pregnancy may result in improvements in the baby’s cognitive and visual abilities, as well as being associated with a lower risk of premature birth.

However, it is important to take precautions when consuming seafood during pregnancy due to the risk of contamination by bacteria and parasites. See below.

The omega-3 fatty acid content of seafood during pregnancy is key to the neurological and visual development of the foetus.

Risks associated with eating seafood during pregnancy

Seafood consumption is not without risk. One of the most significant dangers is exposure to mercury, a heavy metal found in some seafood. This contaminant can cross the placenta and affect a baby’s neurological development, potentially causing damage to the nervous system and developmental delays.

In addition, raw or undercooked seafood presents another important risk: the possibility of containing bacteria and parasites harmful to the health of both mother and foetus. Among these micro-organisms, salmonella and listeria are of particular concern. Listeriosis, for example, is an infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, and during pregnancy, it can lead to serious consequences, including premature birth, miscarriage or even severe illness in the newborn.

It is therefore essential that pregnant women take precautions when consuming seafood. Opting for well-cooked seafood and avoiding seafood known to be high in mercury are key steps to minimise the risks. 

Precautions for safe seafood consumption during pregnancy

Despite the potential risks, it is possible to enjoy the nutritional benefits of seafood during pregnancy by taking certain precautions. 

Choose safe seafood

Opt for seafood that is low in mercury, such as shrimp, prawns, crabs, mussels and clams. These choices are generally safer for consumption during pregnancy. Avoid large, predatory shellfish that tend to have higher levels of mercury.

Cook seafood properly

Be sure to cook shellfish properly to kill any bacteria or parasites present. To ensure the elimination of potentially harmful bacteria and parasites, seafood should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 65°C. This step is vital to prevent food-borne infections that could be harmful to both mother and foetus.

Avoid raw or smoked seafood.

In addition, raw or smoked seafood, including oysters, ceviche and similar dishes, should be avoided during pregnancy. These products can harbour bacteria and viruses that are especially dangerous during this period. Smoked seafood that is not properly cooked before consumption should also be avoided.

Avoid raw or smoked seafood during pregnancy to prevent risks of bacteria and parasites.

Heed the warnings 

Check local warnings about shellfish safety. Health authorities often issue warnings about areas with high contamination that may affect seafood safety. Avoiding consumption of products from these areas is an essential precautionary measure.

Consult your doctor

Finally, if you have any doubts or concerns, it is advisable to consult a doctor or a nutritionist specialised in pregnancy. These professionals can offer specific and personalised guidance, ensuring that the consumption of seafood contributes positively to the development of the pregnancy, without putting the health of the mother or baby at risk.

You can eat seafood in pregnancy, but with caution.

Seafood consumption during pregnancy can be safe and beneficial if proper precautions are taken. Although there are potential risks associated with mercury and bacterial contamination, choosing safe seafood and cooking it properly can minimise these risks.

Seafood is an excellent source of essential nutrients for foetal development and maternal health, so it is not necessary to avoid it completely during pregnancy. However, it is important to take into account the recommendations mentioned above in order to enjoy the nutritional benefits of seafood safely.

Remember to always consult your doctor for specific and personalised information about your particular case.

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