Foods made with seafood are excellent sources of protein, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids. But it can occasionally be confusing to decide which kinds of seafood are safe to eat while pregnant. Women who are pregnant should exercise caution when eating shellfish in particular.
When properly cooked, clams are generally safe to eat while pregnant. Cooking removes any potentially dangerous bacteria from clams. So long as all ingredients, such as pasteurized milk and cream, are safe for pregnancy, pregnant women can enjoy eating clam chowder.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), vitamin D, selenium, and other nutrients are all abundant in seafood. Evidence suggests that eating seafood and getting enough omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) can support cardiovascular health in adults (Hu et al. , 2021).
Fish consumption has been linked to improved vascular function, myocardial filling and efficiency, lower blood pressure, plasma triglycerides, resting heart rate, and inflammation (Hu et al.). , 2021). Additionally, it lowers the risks of some types of heart disease in adults (Mahaffey et al. , 2011).
According to recent research, eating fish regularly while pregnant may be beneficial for the baby’s development (Hu et al. , 2021). Arterburn et al. in 2006 noted that omega-3 PUFAs are good for cardiovascular, mental, and visual health throughout the course of human life. Similarly, Mahaffey et al. in 2011 claimed that omega-3 fatty acids, in particular DHA, are good for infants’ developing cognitive and visual systems.
The main omega-3 fatty acid found in tissues is DHA, which is particularly prevalent in neural and retinal tissues (Arterburn et al. , 2006). DHA has been shown to be preferentially transported through the placenta and into fetal circulation among the PUFAs. However, Yavin et al. state that the precise mechanism underlying the selective accumulation of DHA in the brain is still unknown. , 2001).
Because adipose tissue can only store so much omega-3 PUFA, a steady dietary supply is required. Plasma DHA concentration rises as a result of dietary DHA in a dose-dependent manner. For maximum plasma response, a dose of around 2,000 milligrams per day is required (Arterburn et al. , 2006).
Due to the EPA and DHA found in seafood, eating it while pregnant is thought to be very beneficial (Yavin et al. , 2001). For these purposes, these essential fatty acids are crucial (Yashodhara et al. , 2009):
Consuming omega-3 fatty acids while pregnant not only enhances fetal intellectual development but also lowers the risk of preterm birth. The UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition’s recommendations state that consuming at least two servings of seafood each week is necessary to reap these health benefits (Yashodhara et al. , 2009).
Seafood consumption during pregnancy should, therefore, be promoted. At least 8 ounces up to 12 ounces (or 2 to 3 servings) of seafood per week is advised by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). Similarly, the 2017 edition of Canada’s Food Guide advises pregnant women to choose foods high in protein and foods with healthy fats rather than saturated fat (Hu et al. , 2021).
Fish and shellfish are the most prevalent sources of omega-3 PUFAs in the world (Mahaffey et al. , 2011). In 2007, Hibbeln et al. showed that mothers who consumed less than 340 grams of seafood per week while pregnant had a higher risk of their offspring scoring in the bottom quartile for verbal intelligence quotient (IQ), as opposed to mothers who consumed more than 340 grams per week.
Low maternal seafood consumption was also linked to a higher risk of prosocial behavior, fine motor, communication, and social development outcomes that were less than ideal. Accordingly, the risks of harm from potential contaminant exposure were outweighed by the risks of nutrient loss with low seafood consumption (Hibbeln et al. , 2007).
In 2008, Oken et al. likewise showed that pregnant women who consumed fish at levels higher than the lowest quartile during their pregnancies had children with higher developmental scores at the age of 18 months.
Chowder means rich, thick soup. Chowders are typically served with their chunky ingredients whole, unlike other pureed soups. Chowders with ingredients like corn, fish, lobster, mussels, crab, shrimp, salmon, and clams are currently very popular.
The New England clam chowder, also known as Boston clam chowder, is regarded as the best-tasting and most widely consumed variety. The soup is thick and white because a milk or cream base is used in its preparation. Along with the clams, potatoes, onions, celery, salt, and pepper are also added.
The tomato base of the Manhattan clam chowder gives it a strikingly red color. In addition to the vegetables found in New England clam chowder, it frequently includes additional vegetables like green peppers and carrots.
Although a small amount of tomato puree can occasionally be used to create a red broth, the Rhode Island clam chowder is typically made with a clear broth. In both cases, the soup is thin in consistency. Another distinction is that this particular variety of clam chowder traditionally contains quahog clams.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Clam Chowder?
Pregnant women can safely consume clams by making clam chowder. It’s never a good idea to consume raw clams, especially if you’re pregnant and wondering if clam chowder is safe.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Cooked Clams?
Clams can be consumed while pregnant as long as they are cooked.
No matter if you are pregnant or not, eating raw clams carries some risk because they can contain bacteria and other pathogens like the saltwater-found bacteria Vibrio vulnificus.
Clams with this bacteria do not differ in appearance, flavor, or odor from those without it. Since most bacteria are killed during cooking, thoroughly cooking seafood makes it much safer.
According to the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference, or ISSC, there are a number of variations when it comes to the term “cooked.”
|Clam Cooking Method||Time/Temperature|
|Boiled this includes soup or chowder||At least 3 minutes|
|Fried||At least 3 minutes at 375f|
|Broiled/ Grilled||Thre inches from the heat for 3 minutes|
|Baked in the over||Ten minutes at 450f|
|Steamed||5-10 minutes when the water is already steaming. The time does depend on the size of the clam.|
Clam chowder is typically served as a stew or soup and includes clams, salt pork, onions, vegetables, and a variety of sauces.
Typically, clam juice is used to make a clear broth-based sauce. Others use milk to make it thicker and creamier.
Clam chowder has grown in popularity across the nation and is thought to have been invented in the early 18th century.
Safety of Eating Clam Chowder During Pregnancy
According to Mahaffey et al., clams have 240 milligrams of EPA and DHA per 100 grams. , 2011). One of the most well-liked methods of consuming clams is in clam chowder. As long as the other ingredients (pasteurized milk and cream) are also safe for expectant mothers, it is safe for pregnant women to consume.
Any potential bacteria will be eliminated by thoroughly cooking the clam in a soup. Pregnant women can safely consume cooked shellfish like mussels, lobster, crab, prawns, scallops, and clams, according to the NHS.
The Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference recommends the following cooking procedures for “fully cooked” clams:
Contrarily, pregnant women should stay away from raw clams because they can contain dangerous bacteria like Vibrio vulnificus, which can cause food poisoning and result in serious illness or even death. Coastal waters naturally contain Vibrio vulnificus, and it can be found in waters where clamming is permitted. It has no effect on how clams look, taste, or smell.
Symptoms of an infection with Vibrio vulnificus include:
Cooking can kill the majority of bacteria, including Vibrio vulnificus, that can cause food-borne illnesses. Therefore, when dining out, it’s crucial to never eat raw clams and to always order properly cooked clams.
Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin (Costa et al. , 2010), which can build up in shellfish like crabs, mussels, razor clams, and scallops and result in amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP). Domoic acid’s neurotoxicity causes hallucinations, memory loss, and coma by causing neuronal necrosis and degeneration in particular hippocampus regions (Jeffery et al. , 2004).
Domoic acid exposure can have gastrointestinal side effects at low doses, but at higher doses, it can result in neurological symptoms like seizures, memory loss, and limbic system degeneration. The main way that humans are exposed to domic acid is by eating contaminated shellfish like mussels and clams (Costa et al. , 2010).
Anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and albacore also accumulate domoic acid, but at levels that are typically lower than those found in shellfish (Lefebvre et al. , 20002). Furthermore, it’s significant to remember that cooking does not lower the amount of domoic acid in shellfish (McCarron & Hess, 2006).
Because refrigeration effectively prevents Clostridium botulinum’s germination and the production of its toxin, it rarely causes illness in humans from food consumption. But poor food handling can still spread disease (Sobel et al. , 2004).
In 2004, Sobel et al. reported a botulism type A outbreak brought on by commercial clam chowder. Two people were impacted by it in California in 1994 because they neglected to store the product in the refrigerator before using it.
Consumption of contaminated, raw shellfish is a potential source of Toxoplasma gondii infection in humans. In 2009, Jones et al. revealed that consuming raw oysters, clams, or mussels increases your risk of developing toxoplasmosis. Similar to this, Chiang et al. discovered two separate risk factors for acute toxoplasmosis. consumption of raw clams and owning a cat in the home in 2014
Flu-like symptoms are the most frequent clinical signs of toxoplasmosis, followed by illnesses of the central nervous system, ocular conditions, abortion, and congenital infections. There are three main ways that Toxoplasma gondii can spread to humans (Chiang et al. , 2014):
Acute Toxoplasmosis can lead to self-limiting flu-like symptoms or lymphadenopathy. However, other conditions that can be fatal include encephalitis, pneumonia, chorioretinitis (an eye condition that impairs vision), and multi-organ involvement. Infants who develop intracranial and ocular lesions from congenital toxoplasmosis may become mentally retarded or blind (Chiang et al. , 2014).
To reduce the risk of congenital toxoplasmosis, it is important to encourage women of childbearing age to avoid toxoplasma infection risk factors (Lopes et al. , 2012).
Oysters, clams, mussels, and cockles can all develop viruses in their edible tissues when served raw or undercooked. After consuming tainted shellfish, outbreaks of the norovirus and hepatitis A virus have been documented (Richards, 2016).
The most frequent cause of acute food-borne gastroenteritis in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Scallan et al. , 2011; Hall et al. , 2012). In 2005, Hamano et al. Norovirus outbreaks linked to food-borne gastroenteritis have been reported in Japan as a result of eating contaminated shellfish. Richards also detailed the Norovirus outbreaks linked to raw and steamed clams in New York and Japan in 2016.
Hepatitis A outbreaks have been linked to eating contaminated clams in numerous cases in both the United States and Europe. Clams linked to outbreaks appeared to be raw or undercooked because complete cooking can render enteric viruses inactive (Richards, 2016).
The consumption of coquina clams in Spain was linked to an outbreak of hepatitis A, according to two separate studies (Bosch et al. , 2001; Sanchez et al. , 2002). Up to 75% of tested samples of shellfish contained hepatitis A virus (Bosch et al. , 2001).
In 2002, Kingsley et al. Hepatitis A virus and Norovirus were found in clams that were advertised as “cooked” but actually looked raw. In 2003, Furuta et al. reported a food poisoning outbreak linked to steamed purple Washington clams that was caused by the Norovirus and the Hepatitis A virus.
Mercury is commonly found in fish and shellfish. It is a well-known neurotoxin that can easily cross the placenta and enter the bloodstream of the fetus. Mercury levels in fetuses have been found to be higher than in mothers (Ding et al. , 2013). Microtubule deterioration, mitochondrial damage, lipid peroxidation, and an accumulation of neurotoxic molecules like serotonin, aspartate, and glutamate are all caused by mercury (Patrick, 2002).
The mercury content of clams is 0. 01 milligram per 1,000 grams (Mahaffey et al. , 2011). According to the U. S. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), clams typically have no mercury. 009 parts per million (ppm). This is a minimal level, compared to the standard 0. 1 ppm considered as “low” mercury content.
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) claims that mercury levels are low in all varieties and species of clams, including the following:
Is it safe to eat clams while pregnant?
Avoid raw fish and shellfish to prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria or viruses in seafood. Avoid foods like sushi, sashimi, ceviche, raw oysters, scallops, and clams as they are raw or undercooked. Avoid refrigerated, uncooked seafood.
Can you eat seafood soup while pregnant?
Despite the fact that mercury can harm a baby’s developing brain, studies have shown that consuming typical amounts of low-mercury seafood while pregnant haven’t led to any issues. Additionally, a baby’s healthy cognitive development can be supported by the omega-3 fatty acids found in a variety of fish.