The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics
Mercury in Fish
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Recent news articles about mercury in fish may lead some patients to seek more information from their healthcare providers. For most Americans, seafood is the major source of exposure to mercury.1 The mercury in seafood is in the form of methylmercury, a potential neurotoxin formed by the organification of elemental mercury by marine microorganisms like plankton, which are then consumed by aquatic animals and concentrated up the food chain.

EFFECTS ON NEURODEVELOPMENT — In one study in the Faroe Islands, where consumption of pilot whale meat (which is high in mercury) is common, 878 children followed to age 14 showed evidence of subtle neurodevelopmental decrements (e.g, decreased verbal ability) associated with methylmercury exposure during pregnancy. Postnatal methylmercury exposure did not appear to significantly affect neurodevelopmental outcome. Because of its high fat content, whale meat tends to ... more      

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