Caution Still Needed with Mercury Exposure during Pregnancy

Date: 
July 24, 2013
Autism Speaks offers perspective on new report finding no increased autism risk associated with eating mercury-contaminated fish during pregnancy

A new study found no increased risk of autism associated with mothers eating large amounts of mercury-contaminated fish during pregnancy. The researchers tracked the development of children born to Seychelles Islanders, who tend to eat relatively large amounts mercury-contaminated fish. They looked for any link between autism behaviors in the children and mercury levels in the mothers. They found none.

"However, this should not be taken to mean that high levels of mercury are safe to ingest during pregnancy,” says Alycia Halladay, Autism Speaks senior director of environmental and clinical science. Dr. Halladay notes that the Seychelles women in this study may enjoy special protection from some of the adverse effects of mercury because their exposure comes primarily through ocean fish that are also rich in nutrients.

The study appears online this week in the journal Epidemiology. It included nearly 1,800 children, teens, young adults and their mothers.