Sea Change In Pregnancy Diet Advice

CBS/The Early Show
Doctors and scientists from around the country say pregnant and breastfeeding women have become so fearful about eating fish that might contain mercury, they're not getting enough seafood and that could be hurting themselves - and their babies.

Like many moms-to-be, Robyn Jones cut back on the amount of fish she eats because of concerns about mercury poisoning.

"I would eat fish a lot, maybe four to five times a week, and now … I just find it easier to avoid it altogether," Jones told CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace.

That is the problem, according to a national coalition of obstetricians and scientists who are recommending pregnant and breastfeeding women eat at least 12 oz. of fish - like salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel - every week.

That's a major break from what the government has been recommending, since the FDA's warning in 2001 urging pregnant women not to eat more than 12 ounces of fish a week.

"I think it is very confusing; there will be a report that comes out that says fish is really good and another report that comes out and says no, you shouldn't have it," said Katrina Anthony.

We're coming out now to help correct misconceptions out there," said NYU School of Medicine obstetrician Ashley Roman. "There's a lot of scientific evidence supporting the fact that fish consumption actually leads to better outcomes in pregnancy."

Seafood is brainfood, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. A study this year found that pregnant women who ate more seafood had children who had more advanced motor and social skills and were less likely to have low IQs.

These benefits, the researchers say, outweigh any potential dangers from mercury.