Can you eat cooked sea urchins while pregnant? [Explained]

Verified by Edna Skopljak MD
Verified by Edna Skopljak MD

Edna Skopljak is a medical doctor and an editor at BJBMS medical journal. She graduated from the University of Sarajevo School of Science and Technology.

Seafood is often referred to as the most dangerous food category for pregnant women, although there is some debate about whether this applies only to raw seafood or if the debate includes cooked seafood. Of the shellfish often brought up in food safety conversations, one of concern is sea urchins, which are a popular shellfish dish.

The question is can you eat sea urchins, specifically cooked sea urchins, while you are pregnant? 

Can I eat cooked sea urchins while pregnant?

Yes, you can eat cooked sea urchins while pregnant, if they are properly cooked all the way through.

Sea urchins are rich in many vital nutrients, including omega-3s, vitamins A and C, zinc, and protein, and are a source of dietary fiber.

You may want to limit the amount you eat when pregnant though, as overconsumption of all of these nutrients, particularly from one or a few limited sources, can potentially harm your baby’s development.

Cooking sea urchins kills off any bacteria. While food poisoning is never enjoyable to get at the best of times, it can be even more dangerous when you are pregnant. Changes in your body’s metabolism and nutrient distribution during pregnancy can make it worse and make your baby seriously ill, as any infection will cross the placenta. 

Can I eat raw sea urchins while pregnant?

No, you cannot eat raw sea urchins while pregnant, as they carry listeria bacteria. Listeria bacteria can cause the infection of listeriosis, which can be deadly for both mother and baby. In extreme cases, it causes brain infection, blood poisoning, miscarriage, and stillbirth.

Food contaminated with listeria bacteria look, taste, and smell like normal, and listeria can grow even when on refrigerated food. The only way to kill off listeria bacteria is to cook food at high temperatures and ensure the food is cooked fully.

What seafood can I safely consume when pregnant? 

Most cooked seafood is safe to consume while pregnant. This includes cooked shellfish, sea urchins, oysters, mussels, crabs, and prawns, among many others. Always ensure that any seafood you choose to eat while pregnant is cooked, and if dining out, always reject anything if you are not completely confident that the fish is fully cooked.

Which seafood is not good for pregnancy?

Seafood that should not be consumed during pregnancy includes any raw shellfish, marlin, swordfish, and shark. Oily fish, and fish that are high in mercury, such as Tuna, should be limited, as overconsumption of these can pass on dangerous chemicals like mercury and other toxins to the baby.

Can I eat prawns while pregnant?

The short answer is yes, you can eat prawns while pregnant, but you must ensure they are properly cooked. You should not eat raw or semi-cooked prawns. It is a good source of protein and other nutrients and can be part of a healthy diet during pregnancy.

Benefits of eating sea urchin

Sea urchins are a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A and C. They are also low in calories and fat. Eating sea urchins can help improve your cardiovascular health, boost your immune system, and even help you lose weight. So if you’re looking for a healthy and delicious seafood option, be sure to give them a try. But if you are pregnant, you must cook them first.


Overall, cooked sea urchins and other cooked shellfish or cooked seafood are safe to eat while pregnant, provided the seafood is thoroughly cooked.

Uncooked seafood, shellfish, and sea urchins should always be avoided while pregnant, as these can contain dangerous bacteria like listeria that can, at the most extreme, kill the baby and make the mother seriously ill with food poisoning.

If you stick to seafood you know is well-cooked, you can avoid such problems and reduce the risk of harm to yourself or your baby during pregnancy.