Should fish be avoided during pregnancy because of its contaminants?

Updated on: Feb 1, 2016

No. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3, which is essential to the proper development of the baby. Although some fish contain significant amounts of contaminants, it is important during pregnancy and the years of fertility to choose fish with the most omega-3 and the fewer contaminants.

At the Montreal Diet Dispensary, it is recommended for pregnant women to eat two portions (150 g or 5 oz each) of fish per week. This recommendation can cover the basic needs of omega-3 for the health of women and the proper development of her baby.

However, some fish contain significant amounts of contaminants such as mercury, which may interfere with the optimal development of the baby. For this reason, some fish should be favored more than others.

Sardines* Unlimited
Light tuna, ideally in water
(may be labeled yellowfin)
Salmon* (several species: pink, sockeye, keta and Atlantic) Unlimited
Herring* Unlimited
Atlantic mackerel, blue mackerel * Unlimited
Sprats (similar to herring and sardines)
Available mostly in ethnic grocery stores
Pacific cod, except sablefish (United States) Unlimited
Rainbow trout * Unlimited
Tilapia, fishing, angler fish, mahi mahi, turbot, smelt, char Unlimited
White tuna (also called albacore or yellowfin tuna in English.
Note that the French appellation Albacore tuna is a pale tuna and can be eaten without restriction).
Maximum 300 g or 10 oz per week
Fresh / frozen tuna, marlin, orange roughy and escolar Maximum 150 g or 5 oz per month
Swordfish, shark, bass, St. Lawrence eel, pike, walleye, muskellunge, lake trout (trout), burbot, king mackerel or bonito also called Wahoo, tile Gulf, bar, sablefish, halibut, grouper and redfish . To avoid

* Fish rich in omega-3

If you practice sport fishing, consult the consumption guidelines for fish caught in Quebec on the website of the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks.


Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. (2014). Alimentation et grossesse.

Santé Canada (2009). Lignes directrices sur la nutrition pendant la grossesse à l'intention des professionnels de la santé - Le poisson et les acides gras oméga-3.

Santé Canada. (2008). Le mercure présent dans le poisson.

Santé Canada. (2008). Évaluation des risques pour la santé liés au mercure présent dans le poisson et bienfaits pour la santé associés à la consommation de poisson.


Doré, N. et Le Henaff, D. (2014). Mieux vivre avec notre enfant de la grossesse à deux ans, guide pratique pour les mères et les pères.

Extenso. (2012). Grossesse: bien choisir son poisson.

Extenso. (2015). Quels poissons contiennent le plus de mercure.


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