Can Pregnant Women Eat Crawfish?

Crawfish Are Safe for Pregnant Women to Eat As Long as They Are Fully Cooked

Pregnancy can be a delicate balancing act between satisfying cravings and making safe food choices. If you're desperate for a good, old-fashioned crawfish boil, don't worry. Crawfish, or crayfish, as they're sometimes called, especially the farm-grown variety, are perfectly safe. The key is to make sure that your crawfish are fully cooked to at least 145 degrees F and to limit yourself to no more than 12 ounces per week.

About Crawfish

Family eating Paella and seafood. Top view.

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Crawfish meat looks and tastes almost identical to lobster. The main differences in the creatures themselves are that crawfish rarely grow larger than 2 to 3 inches, while lobsters can get as long as 20 inches. Lobsters are saltwater dwellers, while crawfish thrive in fresh water. They are generally prepared the same ways, by boiling, steaming or grilling. The meat is pale pinkish-white and silky with a mild and slightly sweet flavor. Pregnant women may wonder if it's OK to eat crawfish because they're concerned about mercury levels.

About Mercury

Mercury occurs naturally, but it can also be the by-product of industrial pollutants. In the latter case, it is known as methyl mercury. Methyl mercury is a toxin that can interfere with the development of your baby's brain, central nervous system and kidneys. Some types of fish, especially those that prey on other sea life, can contain high amounts of methyl mercury, which can cross the placenta and harm your growing fetus.

Seafood to Enjoy

Family eating Paella and seafood. Top view.

What Seafood Can You Eat When Pregnant?

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In general, seafood is an excellent source of protein for pregnant women and growing babies. It's also high in omega-3 fatty acids and iron. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to heart health, while iron is needed to support the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body. Crawfish are very low in methyl mercury and therefore safe to enjoy in small portions. Limit yourself to no more than two or three portions of 4 ounces per week. Also safe to eat are flounder and one serving of halibut per week.

Seafood to Avoid

Orange roughy, swordfish, Mexican tilefish and king mackerel are best avoided altogether when pregnant and consumed less than once per week otherwise. These fish are all known to be high in mercury, which can interfere with your baby's development and can affect your own health if eaten regularly. Raw fish should also be avoided due to the risk of food poisoning, which can be more severe and certainly far more unpleasant when you're pregnant.

Tips

Some women don't know they are pregnant until nearly the end of the first trimester. If you have any concerns about having eaten raw or high-mercury seafood before you knew you were pregnant, discuss it with your health care provider.

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