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Mercury Rising: Warnings in Pregnancy and Infancy

Written by Jeanne Ohm, D.C.   
Wednesday, 01 December 2004 00:00
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Mercury: a Known Toxin

It has been known for a long time, that mercury is a toxic and dangerous substance that effects the developing nerve system in an adverse way. Web MD offers this report:

“Mercury is very dangerous to children. Relatively low concentrations keep a child’s brain from developing normally. Kids with mercury poisoning have problems with thinking, language, memory, motor skills, perception, and behavior. “

The CDC further states:

“Two groups are most vulnerable to methyl mercury: the fetus and pregnant women. Premature babies are more vulnerable because they tend to be very small and their brain is not as developed as a full term baby”.

Mercury RisingRichard Weisman, MD, a toxicologist at the University of Miami School of Medicine and director of the Poison Control Center for South Florida tells us, “There is no doubt that mercury is one of the worst [toxins affecting the brain]".

Although warnings of toxic mercury exposure has gotten significant press, routine administration of mercury to pregnant women and children has not been as clearly defined for the consumer.

Mercury in Foods

Cautions about eating too much fish in pregnancy and while nursing because of mercury exposure has had frequent media coverage. MY Web MD writes, “Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet, however nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. Some studies have found dangerously high levels of mercury in some fish enough to cause harm to an unborn baby or a young child’s developing nervous system. This is a cause for concern for the health of women of childbearing age, those who are nursing, and young children. To protect the developing fetus from the effects of mercury in fish, the U.S. FDA advises against eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish during pregnancy and in women of childbearing age. Some states also urge expectant moms to limit canned tuna consumption to 7 ounces a week. “ 1

The title “Canned tuna or canned poison?” was the teaser for a CBS 2 News “Health Watch” report that focused on high levels of mercury found in tuna and the possible health risks associated with them. CBS reporter Paul Moniz quoted a number of physicians, who observed effects of the toxic substance, “Once it gets into our bodies, a substantial part of it will end up in our nervous system, in our brains, and it’s there that it causes a variety of symptoms.”

An interviewed pediatrician said, “We know that high levels of mercury can impair the cognitive development as well as the growth and development of a young child.” What the report appears to be revealing is that while overweight Americans may resort to fish to shed unwanted pounds, too much fish in their diets could reduce the IQ more than the waistline. 2