First Steven Shaw weighed in on pregnancy diet myths (yes, he's a guy, but he's a sensitive fellow), then our own Meg Hourihan responded, and coming up fast on the inside is Jane Brody, with a story titled "Dispelling Pregnancy Myths: Eating for 1.5."
Brody, using the March of Dimes as her Chief of the Pregnancy Nutrition and Safety Police Battering Ram, seems to be spouting just the kind of stuff Shaw and Meg decry. Her basic thesis: "The March of Dimes is making a new push to dispel nutritional misinformation and replace it with advice based on solid scientific evidence. Some of the advice may come as a distressing surprise to women, who may be fond of foods or drinks that could endanger their pregnancy."
The list of foods Brody says pregnant women shouldn't eat is long and wide, including Meg's beloved raw oysters.
So let's see. We know Brody's and the March of Dimes's point of view.
"Why take any risk?" they ask. The medical establishment and the culture at large have twisted logic around to the point where any risk, no matter how infinitesimal, is too much. So powerful is this Puritanical impulse that, once a health objection is raised, however irrational the recommended behavior, it’s considered irresponsible to behave any other way."
Every pregnant woman needs to find her own balance, and it's not going to be the same for each. For me the anxiety of worrying about what I ate was worse than actually eating it. Early on, I was so worked up I wasn't gaining enough weight. And that's a much worse consequence for a developing fetus.
Why take any risk? Because life is risky. Are you going to stop driving because you're pregnant? Are you going to stop leaving the house? I found my balance between enjoying food and tolerating risk, and it included the occasional Wellfleet on the half-shell. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the recommendations and to live in fear of every bite of food you put into your mouth. But that makes for a very stressful, anxious, long nine (plus) months. And that certainly isn't good for the fetus.
it seems to me that Shaw and Meg are basically in the same place on this topic, taking issue with some of what's espoused by Brody and the March of Dimes.
And just to add another layer to this discussion, the New York City Department of Health just released a study reporting that roughly one-quarter of adult New Yorkers, 1.4 million people, have elevated levels of mercury in their blood, mainly from eating certain fish.
Here's the Deptartment of Health's Safe Fish List:
Weekly serving recommendations for pregnant or breast-feeding women and young children. No more than five 6-ounce servings of seafood very low in mercury: Anchovies, Clams, Crawfish/Crayfish, Hake, Herring, Oysters, Pollock, Salmon, Sardines, Talapia, and Whiting.
Who eats fish five times a week?
No more than two 6-ounce servings of seafood low in mercury: Butterfish, Catfish, Cod, Crab, Croaker, Flounder, Haddock, Jacksmelt, Mackerel, Mullet, Mussels, Perch, Scallops, Shad, Sole, Squid, Trout, Tuna, Whitefish.