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Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 10:49am

Chambliss Pushes For New Fish Guidelines

A group of senators including Georgia's Saxby Chambliss is urging the Food and Drug Administration to relax fish consumption guidelines for pregnant women.

Federal agencies disagree on the harm from mercury-laden seafood.

Fish are a big source of mercury exposure in this country.

Consuming too much mercury during pregnancy could lead to birth defects.

Three federal agencies have consumption guidelines.

The most strict is the FDA's.

Chambliss and 12 other Senators want the agency to use a less strict recommendation that comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Health and Human Services administration.

Ogeechee Riverkeeper Dianna Wedincamp says, her group tested local fish and found all of them to contain levels of mercury above guidelines from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

"I would say the less you could eat during your pregnancy, the better," Wedincamp says. ""If I were pregnant or nursing, I would not eat seafood or fish. I would stay away from that."

Chambliss says, FDA warnings to avoid fish while pregnant overlook seafood's benefits.

"The federal government should be clear and consistent when offering recommendations involving the health of millions of mothers and their children," Chambliss says. "Women should have access to reliable information based on the most recent scientific research, so they may make informed decisions regarding their pregnancy."

The FDA has told Senators that it will revise its policy after getting results of a detailed scientific study.

But that could take at least a year.