Why should mercury be avoided during pregnancy? What effect does it produce in the newborn baby? Why mercury is harmful during pregnancy? These are a few questions that need to be explored before finding out on ways to avoid mercury during pregnancy.
Mercury stops brain growth and, as a result, the child may take birth in an abnormal condition. When higher concentrations of mercury pass through the placenta during pregnancy, the child develops impairments in the nervous system. The consequent abnormality in the child can be mild or severe.
As per a report of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), mercury not only affects the brain and nervous system but also affects some other parts of the expected child. It affects the memory of the child and hampers the cognitive capacity of the infant. The child may face difficulties in talking and language after birth and also develop visual impairment.
Properties of Mercury
Mercury is a chemical substance found naturally in the environment. At room temperature, mercury remains in liquid form.
Not many people know that the natural source of mercury is volcanoes. The eruption of volcanoes spread the deadly metal in air, water, and soil from which it reaches the human body by several mediums. Most of the human activities like farming and using fertilizer and pesticides, burning coal in power plant, use of mercury in factories and chemical industries (thermometers and thermostats etc.), accelerate the mercury cycle in the environment.
From the air, it will directly enter into our body through inhalation. In water, the mercury chemically changes into methyl mercury. This methyl mercury through polluted water enters the body of pregnant women either directly or through consumption of seafood. It again leaves the human body through urine, feces and breast milk and the cycle continues.
A large amount of mercury enters into a pregnant woman by the way of seafood or fish. Therefore, avoiding fish during pregnancy can easily solve this problem.
However, this is easier said than done. An unborn child needs vitamins, minerals, good unsaturated fat, Omega -3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA in its development of the brain and nervous system. The main source of Omega -3 fatty acids is seafood, fish in particular. Fish is also a very good source of protein, vitamin D and so many other vitamins and minerals.
Therefore, doctors always prescribe fish to pregnant women for better brain development of the unborn child. However, they always suggest consumption of small fish, not a large one. As large fish eat small fish, the mercury amount is greater in bigger fishes. Large fishes live longer when compared to smaller fish and deposit of mercury can accumulate in their muscles for nearly three years. To get Omega -3 fatty acids, eat small fish and to avoid mercury don’t eat large fish.
Who needs to avoid it?
All pregnant women and breast feeding mothers along with younger children whose brain and nervous system are not fully developed should avoid large fish and the resultant mercury consumption.