Is It Safe To Eat Prawns During Pregnancy?

✔ Research-backed

When you are expecting, you need to be extra careful about your nutrition because everything you eat will affect the growing fetus. Therefore, many women wonder whether it is safe to eat prawns during pregnancy.

Seafood is generally considered unsafe for consumption during pregnancy because of the toxins they contain due to the rise in water pollution (1). Moreover, eating prawns when pregnant may also increase your risk of contracting food-borne infectionsiA disease developing after consuming contaminated food and water typically indicated by nausea and vomiting .

However, if you have consulted your doctor and want to eat a small quality of prawns, be sure to follow some important tips to ensure they are safe for your consumption.

Read this post to learn more about whether it is safe to eat prawns during pregnancy and some tips to follow if you want to occasionally include them in your diet.

In This Article

Is It Safe To Eat Prawns During Pregnancy?

You may be tempted to relish those butter garlic prawns, but wait… are there any dietary restrictions for prawns during pregnancy?

Almost all forms of seafood are best avoided during pregnancy. Seafood apart from being a good source of protein fats and minerals, which are necessary for the normal growth of your fetus, they also come with high levels of mercury (2).

Why Should Prawns Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

Water pollution has caused an increase in the accumulation of toxic chemicals in marine life, which makes consumption of seafood more problematic than before.

  • It is advisable to avoid consuming seafood served in restaurants during pregnancy. Since they are more likely to be undercooked and may not be prepared in the clean environments as at home.
Avoid undercooked seafood like prawn during pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

  • If you are sure that the prawns you’ve purchased are from a safe freshwater source, you can consume it occasionally after seeking the opinion of your healthcare provider.

Brooke Pieke, a nutritionist from the Greater Chicago Area, says, “Your body is working harder to digest the prawns, so it ‘heats’ up. As a result, you may feel symptoms such as nausea, sweating, and diarrhea. Eating lighter protein choices or reducing the quantity of prawns may help.”

What Are The Health Risks Of Eating Prawns During Pregnancy?

Consuming prawns, particularly raw prawns is extremely harmful during pregnancy, and is thought to be associated with a number of health risks including-

  • Consuming raw prawns may pose the risk of food poisonings. As raw seafood tends to contain certain parasitesiOrganisms that reside on another organism to obtain nourishment and protection that could harm the digestive system.

“Be cautious on how prawns are prepped, as raw prawns greatly increase the risk of food poisoning. The National Institute of Health completed a study in 2022 and concluded that grilling shrimp is the best preparation method, as it maintains the taste and nutrients while decreasing bacterial growth,” recommends Pieke.

Consuming raw prawns may pose the risk of food poisonings

Image: Shutterstock

  • Seafood contains high levels of toxic substances like mercury, which is thought to affect your baby’s nervous system development (2).
  • Prawns obtained from contaminated rivers and lakes also contain high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, which may also pose health risks to your baby.
  • Listeria contaminationiA phenomenon in which food is contaminated with Listeria bacteria, which, when ingested, may cause severe illness is also possible on consumption of raw prawns, which may cause lethal blood poisoningiA serious complication of an infection where a microbe or its toxins enter and spread into a person’s bloodstream and other infections to your fetus.

What Are Some Tips To Eat Prawns Safely During Pregnancy?

Though it is best to avoid consuming prawns during pregnancy, if your doctor is okay with the idea, you can consume it occasionally. Here are a few ways you can consume prawns safely during pregnancy and minimize any possible health risks to your fetus.

  • Make sure you cook the prawns well. Most prawns turn red when cooked perfectly, and the flesh usually turns pearly and opaque.
  • Cooking the prawns perfectly will ensure that all the potential infection causing agents will be killed.
  • It is also a good idea to freeze the prawns 24 hours prior to cooking it- this will also kill a good number of organisms.
  • Salting and pickling the prawns is also likely to make it safer to consume.
Salting and pickling the prawns makes them more safe to eat

Image: Shutterstock

  • You can also consider consuming smoked prawns following the consultation of your doctor.
  • If you’re cooking your dish in the oven, let it stay in the residual heat for a few minutes even after it is cooked.
  • It is also a great idea to choose fresh produce for your meals during pregnancy. Canned foods pack in a lot of preservatives, which could also be harmful for your baby.

Prawns Recipes For Pregnant Women

Try these nutritious and flavorful prawn recipes that are safe and satisfying for expecting mothers.

1. Coconut curry prawns

Coconut curry prawns

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 400g of prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 can of coconut milk (400ml)
  • 2 tablespoons of red curry paste
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced

How to prepare:

  • In a skillet, heat oil and stir-fry red curry paste.
  • Add coconut milk, bell pepper, and zucchini, and simmer until tender.
  • Add prawns and cook until pink.
  • Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.

2. Prawn and avocado salad

Prawn and avocado salad

Image: Shutterstock

You will need:

  • 200g of cooked and peeled prawns
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1 cup of mixed greens
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

How to prepare:

  • Mix cooked prawns, greens, red onion, and cherry tomatoes.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many prawns can I eat during pregnancy?

Experts suggest eating between 8 and 12 ounces (that is, two to three meals) of thoroughly cooked and low-on-mercury shellfish prepared by safe cooking methods and shellfish that is low in mercury per week (3).

2. Can eating prawns cause high blood pressure?

Fresh seafood may be an excellent choice for those with hypertension. Processed, canned, smoked, and cured seafood, including prawns, may lead to hypertension. Prawns are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and are not likely to cause high blood pressure when consumed in moderation (4) (5).

3. Do prawns raise cholesterol?

Prawns are low in fat but contain cholesterol (6). Therefore, excessive intake may raise cholesterol levels.

There are many apprehensions surrounding the safety of consuming seafood during pregnancy. If you crave and want to eat some prawns during pregnancy, you must seek your Ob/Gyn’s consent. However, prawns or seafood is best avoided during pregnancy. If your doctor permits prawn consumption during pregnancy, you must ensure that it is fresh, well-cooked, and not procured from any street vendor. If you notice any abnormal symptoms after consuming prawns, do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider.

Infographic: Health Risks Of Consuming Prawns In Pregnancy

Consuming seafood when pregnant has many advantages, as it contains plenty of proteins and minerals, which are crucial for the mother and the growing fetus. However, it is important to know the risks before having them. So, check out the infographic below to learn about the risks and precautions for having prawns when pregnant.

risks and precautions for eating prawns during pregnancy (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • The rise in mercury levels and increasing water pollution have made seafood consumption during pregnancy unsafe, and also increase the risk of contracting food-borne infections.
  • Avoid consuming seafood at restaurants due to the risk of undercooked or uncleanly prepared food.
  • Consuming raw prawns can cause food poisoning, and the high levels of mercury in seafood can affect the nervous system development of the baby.
  • Listeria contamination from consuming prawns can cause lethal blood poisoning and other infections in the fetus.
  • Consume prawns that turn red when cooked properly, and freeze them for 24 hours before cooking to reduce the number of organisms.
prawns during pregnancy_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Health Risks associated with seafood consumption; Seafood choices: balancing benefits and risks.
  2. Eating seafood during pregnancy, APA.
  3. Eating Shrimp During Pregnancy.
  4. Prawns.
  5. Eat Seafood for Your Health
  6. High Cholesterol Food;
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Shivani Sikri

Shivani SikriPublic health and Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics

Shivani Sikri is the chief nutritionist and co-founder of Nutri4Verve and holds about 13 years of experience in the field of nutrition. After completing her Masters, Shivani Sikri did a postgraduate in nutrition and health education, a postgraduate diploma in public health and nutrition (PGDPHN), and a postgraduate diploma in nutrition and clinical dietetics. She has also completed her full bio