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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111

Abstract

LLOP, Sabrina; IBARLUCEA, Jesús; SUNYER, Jordi  and  BALLESTER, Ferran. Current dietary exposure to mercury during pregnancy and childhood, and public health recommendations. Gac Sanit [online]. 2013, vol.27, n.3, pp.273-278. ISSN 0213-9111.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gaceta.2012.09.002.

Exposure to high levels of mercury during vulnerable periods (such as pregnancy and childhood) may have serious consequences for cognitive development, as observed after acute poisoning episodes in Japan and Irak. The main source of mercury exposure in the general population is consumption of certain types of fish. There is growing concern about the possible neurotoxic effects of mercury, especially in younger children in populations where fish intake is moderate to high. The scientific evidence to date is inconclusive. In Spain, the Childhood and Environment (Infancia y Medio Ambiente [INMA]) project has provided information on levels of prenatal exposure to mercury among 1800 newborns from Valencia, Sabadell, Asturias and Guipúzcoa. In general, levels were high, being above the World Health Organization's recommended dose in 24% of children and above the recommended levels of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 64%. However, the results did not indicate a significant association between prenatal mercury exposure and delayed cognitive development during the second year of life. Various agencies have developed recommendations on fish consumption for pregnant women and children, due to the presence of mercury. These recommendations should be strengthened, since there is general consensus among all regional and national public administrations that fish is an essential source of nutrients for development in the early stages of life.

Keywords : Mercury; Vulnerable population; Cognitive development; Public health.

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