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Brain Food

Sunday, April 1, 2001

Brain Food

What women should know about mercury contamination of fish

View and Download the report here: Brain Food

On January 12, 2001, government health officials issued new advisories warning women to limit fish consumption during pregnancy to avoid exposing their unborn children to unsafe levels of methylmercury. Methylmercury can cross the placenta and cause learning deficits and developmental delays in children who are exposed even to relatively low levels in the womb. The principal exposure route for the fetus is fish consumption by the mother.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates commercially sold fish, recommends that pregnant and nursing women and young children not eat any shark, swordfish, tilefish, or king mackerel, but then recommends 12 ounces per week of any other fish. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which makes recommendations to states about safe mercury levels in sport fish, allows up to 8 ounces of any fish per week for pregnant women with no prohibitions on consumption of any individual fish caught recreationally.

These restrictions are steps in the right direction, but they need to be tightened significantly to adequately protect women and their unborn children from the toxic effects of methylmercury.

View and Download the report here: Brain Food