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Nutrición Hospitalaria

On-line version ISSN 1699-5198Print version ISSN 0212-1611


GONZALEZ-ESTECHA, Montserrat et al. The effects of methylmercury on health in children and adults: national and international studies. Nutr. Hosp. [online]. 2014, vol.30, n.5, pp.989-1007. ISSN 1699-5198.

The benefit of fish consumption in children and adults is well-known. However, it has been pointed out that excessive methylmercury intake due to consumption of contaminated fish leads to neurological toxicity in children, affecting cognitive function, memory, visual-motor function and language. After the intoxications in Minamata and Iraq, wide-ranging epidemiological studies were carried out in New Zealand, the Faroe Islands and the Seychelles and international recommendations were established for fish consumption in pregnant women and small children. In Spain, the Childhood and Environmental project (INMA, its Spanish acronym) has studied the effects of diet and the environment on fetal and childhood development in different geographic areas of Spain. National and international sudies have demonstrated that mercury concentrations are mainly dependent on fish consumption, although there are variations among countries which can be explained not only by the levels of fish consumption, but also by the type or species of fish that is consumed, as well as other factors. Although the best documented adverse effects of methylmercury are the effects on nervous sytem development in fetuses and newborns, an increasing number of studies indicate that cognitive function, reproduction and, especially, cardiovascular risk in the adult population can also be affected. However, more studies are necessary in order to confirm this and establish the existance of a causal relationship.

Keywords : Methylmercury; Health; Neurodevelopment; Cardiovascular diseases; Prenatal exposure.

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