New research from a long term study of pregnancy and children at the University of Bristol published in the Sept. 30, 2013, issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that food fish contains such a low level of mercury on a percentage basis that the consumption of fish by pregnant women is more healthy for their children than avoiding fish due to supposed high levels of mercury.
The United States National Research Council recommendations to avoid fish during pregnancy are shown to be less than appropriate by the fact that fish accounts for only seven per cent of the mercury levels found in the human body.
The results were based on a study of the food consumed by 4,484 women during pregnancy. Only 103 food items were found to contain mercury and the same 103 food items contributed 17 percent of the mercury found in the test women’s bodies.
Fish, herbal tea, wine, and beer were the highest mercury containing foods found in the study. More mercury exposure occurs from water and air pollution, pesticides, fungicides, medications, and beauty products than from food and specifically fish according to the study.
The benefits to a fetus of fish consumption are higher intelligence and better eyesight and are considered to outweigh the potential harm of the low levels of mercury found in the study.