Can I Eat Sushi While I’m Pregnant?

Here’s one I wrote for a website that answers common questions:

Can I Eat Sushi While I’m Pregnant?

It’s best to avoid sushi that is made with raw fish, but you may not have to give it up completely.

During pregnancy your body’s immune system is suppressed to keep it from attacking the little foreigner growing in your belly. This makes you more susceptible to food borne illness.

Raw fish can carry parasites, and raw shellfish can contain bacteria or viruses. Most sushi has been frozen, which will kill the parasites, but there is still a small chance the pathogens will survive. Cooking completely to 145 degrees will kill all of them, so it is seen as the only completely safe option.

However some obstetricians are not banning sushi anymore because the risk of contamination is low. Indulging now and then is permissible with a few exceptions. High mercury levels in some fish outweigh any nutritional benefits, so keep away from mackerel, shark, tilefish and swordfish, and don’t eat too much tuna.

A benefit of sushi is that eating oily fish while pregnant supplies important Omega 3 fatty acids. These are good for the mother and important for the baby’s brain and eye development. They aren’t made by the body, so food or supplements are the only way to get them.

Very few people get sick from eating sushi, especially when it’s made in the controlled environment of a restaurant. However if you want to be sure you won’t have any problems from eating raw fish stick to the fully cooked or vegetarian choices.