Can Pregnant Women Eat Crab?

Eating for Two, the Seafood Section

Many pregnant women get overwhelmed by shifting dietary recommendations. Is sushi safe? What types of seafood are safe? The truth is that there are more types of safe seafood than unsafe, and that safe seafood can be a great source of protein and essential fatty acids. Crab, for example, is safe up to about 6 ounces per week. The main concerns for seafood during pregnancy are mercury content and the increased risk of food borne illness. Following a few straightforward recommendations will help keep you and your baby in great health and enjoying as many foods as possible.

Avoid Mercury

Seafood. Crabs in clay bowl on wooden background

List of Food & Fruits to Be Avoided in Pregnancy

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One of the primary concerns for seafood consumption during pregnancy is mercury. Mercury is found in many fish and can cause damage to the nervous systems of unborn babies. Fish that are larger, older, or that eat other fish tend to have the highest levels of mercury. This means that swordfish, marlin and shark are off the menu, but that shrimp, salmon, cod, clams and scallops are all good to go. The FDA says that it is safe for pregnant women to eat up to 12 ounces per week of low-mercury seafood. Lobster and crab tend to have a bit more mercury than other shellfish, so limit these to about 6 ounces per week. Watch local fish advisories to determine the safety of fish caught locally before you eat, and be aware that locally caught fish may have more contaminants than commercial varieties.

Cook it Well

Any fish that you eat during pregnancy should be cooked to at least 145 F or until it flakes apart. Cook shrimp, scallops and lobster until they are milky white. Avoid any fish served raw, refrigerated or smoked unless it is canned, shelf-stable or cooked during preparation. Yes, you will have to steer clear of the sushi bar until after baby is born. This is because your immune system is suppressed during pregnancy, and you are more susceptible to food borne illness. Any illness that you do get can be more severe, and in some cases can affect your unborn baby. Even the best sashimi just isn't worth that risk. Eat your fill of clam chowder and baked salmon instead, and don't be afraid to send it back if you're in a restaurant and it comes out under cooked.

Keep it Clean

Seafood. Crabs in clay bowl on wooden background

Can You Eat Shrimp While Pregnant?

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Again because of the risks of food borne illness, you will want to be especially careful about food preparation while you are pregnant. Avoid raw sprouts such as alfalfa or mung bean sprouts and any foods that are unpasteurized since these can contain harmful bacteria. Wash your hands and work space thoroughly before and after preparing food. Wash all of your produce carefully. Wash knives and cutting boards in hot, soapy water after preparing seafood and use separate knives and cutting boards for raw seafood and meats. If you have any questions about your diet or specific foods, be sure to talk them over with your doctor.