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Pregnancy: Scared Fishless

Government warnings about seafood may be causing pregnant women to lose their appetites.

Joshua Cohen, a researcher at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, says repeated warnings about mercury-contaminated fish may be drowning out the good news: Pregnant women who eat fish give birth to brainier babies. Studies show a diet that includes omega-3 fatty acids—good fats found in fish—nourishes the developing baby and helps mothers avoid postpartum depression. Cohen says mothers may hear only the cautionary alerts about mercury pollution's harm to the fetal brain and shun fish completely.

The trick, says Cohen, is to educate mothers to avoid the large, mercury-laden species, like swordfish and tilefish, and to encourage weekly meals of low-mercury seafood, including cod, haddock, shrimp and canned "light" tuna.