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Three new reports released this week relay that mercury contamination of seafood may result in negative health consequences for you and your unborn baby. The reports show that mercury tainted fish, such as swordfish, shark and certain species of tuna may contain higher mercury concentrations than other seafood. The reports also point out the average seafood eater tends to consume fish with mercury concentrations that usually exceed “safe” EPA levels. Furthermore the reports highlight the fact that when a mama-to-be consumes even an, “ordinary amount of fish” it poses a risk to developing fetuses. Young children are also at risk for ill health effects caused by mercury.

In the past, health organizations including the European Union and the US Food and Drug Administration have recommended that pregnant and nursing mothers avoid shark, swordfish or king mackerel  –but have ascertained that some tuna is safe. These new reports say otherwise, noting that old guidelines are way out of date, especially considering that researchers have found that even low levels of mercury may result in poor brain development of unborn children.

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Image courtesy of the University of Exeter

The Zero Mercury Working Group, in cooperation with scientists from the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) and with other prominent scientists, has released these reports, along with a global webinar in order to warn people about the ongoing dangers of mercury in seafood and the fact that health consequences have been seen even when people eat low mercury amounts that were considered “safe” just a few years ago.  This isn’t the first we’ve heard of seafood dangers. The image above, for example, shows how many fish are positively brimming with hormone disrupting chemicals. Mercury has been linked to developmental disabilities and autism, numbness or pain in certain parts of your skin, uncontrollable shake or tremor, inability to walk well, blindness and double vision, memory problems, ADHD, and even seizures and death. If you think you’re safe because you only consume a little bit of fish while pregnant, think again. According to Sierra Club, “As few as 1 in 12, and as many as 1 in 6, American women have enough mercury in their bodies to put a baby at risk. That means that each year more than 300,000 babies are born at risk of mercury poisoning.“  Your favorite sushi or other possibly contaminated fish aren’t worth the risk. Play it safe while pregnant and avoid eating seafood. If you can’t avoid seafood, print out NDRC’s pocket guide to safe fish and carry it with you.

+ Zero Mercury Working Group