To the People

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Expectant Moms Don't Need Nannies

Steven A. Shaw, a co-founder of eGullet, had a great op-ed in yesterday's NYT on sushi, pregnancy, and the unintended consequences of America's growing aversion to risk.
But rational analysis doesn’t hold sway with the pregnancy police.

“Why take any risk?” they ask. The medical establishment and the culture at large have twisted logic around to the point where any risk, no matter how infinitesimal, is too much. So powerful is this Puritanical impulse that, once a health objection is raised, however irrational the recommended behavior, it’s considered irresponsible to behave any other way.

There’s a temptation to say there’s no harm in this type of thinking. Women should simply not eat sushi for nine months; surely that’s no big deal.

But there are problems with this approach. For one thing, between the warnings about parasites in sushi and about mercury in certain species of fish, pregnant women are being scared off fish altogether. And that’s bad news, since the fatty acids in fish are the ideal nourishment for a developing baby.

For another thing, the sushi ban is insulting to Japanese culture. It speaks of ignorance and prejudice to reject one of that culture’s basic foods based on unfounded health claims. And perhaps most important, pregnancy should be a time of joy, not stress. The result of an over-regulated pregnancy is fear and negativity. Perhaps the best antidote would be to relax with a salmon roll and a nice sake.
More on Shaw here. Oddly, Shaw's was one of two sushi op-eds in yesterday's NYT. Second here.