Seafood is a Nutritional Powerhouse For Pregnant Women, Research Shows

(ARA) - Eating at least two servings of seafood each week during pregnancy and breastfeeding raises omega-3 levels and helps improve babies' eyesight and brain development, according to the final report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Made up of the country's top nutrition experts, the committee spent two years reviewing the latest science and crafting recommended changes to the government's nutrition advice. The advice is updated every five years and each time something stands out. This year, that is the new advice about eating seafood. Here's what the final report says:

* Eating two servings of seafood each week was shown to reduce the risk of dying from heart disease (whether you have heart disease or not).

* Eating at least two servings of seafood each week during pregnancy and breastfeeding was shown to raise omega-3 levels and help improve babies' eyesight and brain development.

* The health benefits of eating a variety of cooked seafood outweigh concerns with mercury, even among pregnant and nursing women and young children.

"Any questions about the safety and healthfulness of seafood are silenced by a report of this caliber," says registered dietitian Jennifer McGuire, manager of nutrition communication for the National Fisheries Institute. "We're at the point where people can replace emotion-based misinformation with science-based advice that will help reverse the health problems associated with a typical low-seafood American diet."

This encouraging advice is also reflected in a 2009 Food and Drug Administration draft report. The report says the FDA concluded that the greatest benefits to pregnant women and women of childbearing age would come from eating more fish.

Two of the world's top experts on brain health, Drs. Thomas Brenna of Cornell University and Michael Crawford of London Metropolitan University, are urging the FDA to finalize their report and update the 2004 advice about eating fish during pregnancy. In an open letter to the FDA they wrote; "A consistent stream of new publications and international scientific evaluations has persuaded us that this advice has become outdated and that it may be inadvertently causing harm, inconsistent with your public health mission. Mothers and children worldwide deserve your best efforts to provide advice consistent with the best science available." To date, 129 research scientists and physicians have signed on to the open letter.

To learn more about the health benefits of a seafood-rich diet - including recipes, video cooking techniques and how to shop for seafood advice, visit

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