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The Scary Reason Pregnant Women Should Avoid Fish

All fish contain small amounts of methylmercury, the most toxic form of mercury, and “fish consumption represents the main source of methylmercury exposure.” In my videos Nerves of Mercury and Fish Fog, I discuss how mercury exposure through fish consumption, even within the government’s safety limits, can have adverse neurological and behavioral effects on child development. Severe exposure can cause overt structural brain abnormalities like microcephaly, a shrunken brain disorder. But we didn’t know whether low exposure could also affect brain size until recently.

Autopsy studies suggest mercury preferentially affects the developing cerebellum, so researchers used ultrasound to measure cerebellum size in newborns of mothers who had high body levels of mercury.

Let’s put that into practical terms. In the above video, you can see the results of a study measuring mercury concentration in human hair. Just one can of tuna a week raises human hair mercury concentration to levels nearly three times as high as the “high” group in the ultrasound study. So the bodies of the women suffering high mercury contamination were considered heavily contaminated, but even just a little canned tuna once in a while could bump our levels even higher. So the high really wasn’t that high. But what did they find?

The researchers demonstrated that babies born to mothers with higher hair mercury levels had cerebellums up to 14% shorter than those born to mothers with lower hair mercury levels. They conclude that prenatal exposure to what may be considered low-levels of methylmercury does indeed influence fetal brain development as evidenced “by decreased size of a newborn’s brain.”

But what about the long chain omega-3 DHA in fish—isn’t that necessary for healthy brain development? That’s the topic of my video Mercury vs. Omega-3s for Brain Development.

For more on canned tuna in particular, check out:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live year-in-review presentations Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death and More Than an Apple a Day.

Related:
Fukushima and Radioactivity in Seafood
Mercury Testing Before Pregnancy
The Effects of Cow’s Milk on Babies

Read more: Health, Babies, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, General Health, Natural Remedies, Obstetrics, Pregnancy, Videos, Women's Health, , , ,

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Dr. Michael Greger

A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. Currently Dr. Greger serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at The Humane Society of the United States. Hundreds of his nutrition videos are freely available at NutritionFacts.org.

62 comments

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1:01PM PDT on Aug 2, 2014

Mercury was used in making hats. Hence, we had Mad Hatters.

12:37AM PDT on May 22, 2014

Thanks

11:04AM PDT on May 12, 2014

I think all of us... The ocean is not the safe place it used to be...

4:36AM PDT on May 5, 2014

Love our mum

3:50AM PDT on May 5, 2014

ty

9:32AM PDT on May 4, 2014

my friend's sister makes $75 hourly on the laptop . She has been without a job for 9 months but last month her paycheck was $19168 just working on the laptop for a few hours. see this here

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5:04PM PDT on May 3, 2014

I was always told to avoid fish if pregnant because it could cause complications after birth for the child and could increase the risk of miscarriage before birth.

7:47AM PDT on May 3, 2014

thank you

7:06AM PDT on May 3, 2014

ALL Doctors should warn women but will they;I doubt it

6:38AM PDT on May 2, 2014

Thank you.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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