ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Eating Sushi While Pregnant

Updated on January 9, 2011

Can Pregnant Women Eat Sushi?

Many American women wonder if it is safe to eat sushi while pregnant. While many people discourage eating sushi while pregnant, it can be done safely, as long as the woman is aware of the types of fish she consumes and has a trusted source for good, fresh sushi. Most Japanese women continue to eat sushi while pregnant with no ill effects.

Ultimately, eating sushi while pregnant is a risk, though a manageable one, and a choice that should be made individually after consulting with your doctor. It's important to be aware of the mercury levels in the fish you eat and the risk  of intestinal parasites from sushi.


Risks to Pregnant Women- Mercury Exposure

Doctors commonly advise women to avoid sushi while pregnant for two reasons- to limit their exposure to mercury and to avoid parasites.

Mercury in Fish

Many large fish that are high on the food chain are popular sushi fish, but these fish often have dangerously high levels of mercury in their flesh. Pregnant women and their fetuses are particularly vulnerable to mercury poisoning. In the 1950s, some Japanese women who consumed fish with high mercury levels while pregnant gave birth to babies with serious birth defects, leading doctors to warn women about consuming too much mercury while pregnant.

Fish with High Mercury Levels

Consuming these fish (raw or cooked) should be avoided while pregnant.

  • shark
  • swordfish
  • king mackerel
  • tilefish
  • albacore, or "white" tuna

Fish with Low Mercury Levels

The EPA recommends that women and children eat two servings per week of these low-mercury fish:

  • salmon
  • canned light tuna
  • shrimp
  • pollock
  • catfish

Other Risks- Parasites

Many doctors discourage pregnant women from consuming raw fish because there is an inherent risk of consuming parasitic worms in the fish's flesh. While these parasites may not be serious or life-threatening for mother or child, treatments for intestinal parasites are too harsh to be administered while the mother is pregnant and would have to be put on hold until after delivery. 

A reputable and clean sushi restaurant offers lowered risk of contracting a parasite. Fish should be fresh and freeze-treated by freezing for 24 hours before consumption, which kills parasitic worms. Most fish chosen for sushi has lowered risk of containing worms, and it is always inspected by many people before it reaches your plate.


Safe Sushi

Many types of sushi, especially types of maki, or sushi rolls, contain no fish or cooked fish. Here is a partial list of sushi that can be enjoyed by pregnant women or anyone who wishes to avoid raw fish.

  • Anything containing eel. Eel is always served cooked.
  • Shrimp, or ebi, is usually served cooked.
  • Smoked salmon is not technically cooked, but it is preserved, so there is little risk of consuming a parasite.
  • Tamago, or sushi omelette, is cooked egg.
  • Ikura, or salmon roe, and tobiko, or flying fish roe, are raw fish eggs, but are usually preserved in a soy mixture. (Fish eggs do not carry salmonella.)
  • Anything containing cooked fish.
  • California rolls usually contain cooked pollock (not crab), which is low in mercury.

Of course, all vegetarian sushi is safe for anyone to eat. Most restaurants will only offer vegetarian rolls, but some will also serve vegetarian nigiri. Types of vegetarian sushi available may include:

  • avocado
  • cucumber
  • pickled daikon radish
  • kanpyo, or sweet squash
  • sweet potato tempura
  • seaweed salad
  • plum paste and cucumber
  • asparagus
  • tofu or tempeh
  • spinach

Ask the Readers- Did You Eat Sushi While Pregnant

Did You Eat Sushi While Pregnant

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • JenBarn profile image


      4 years ago

      Thanks for this! I've read quite a few articles on sushi consumption while pregnant in other countries. This is great for a nice summary of what to watch for!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)