High mercury levels harmful to babies - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

High mercury levels harmful to babies

Dr. Emily Sumner Dr. Emily Sumner
ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Guidelines regarding fish consumption have been released by the Food and Drug Administration for women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, and children. Their research shows eating certain types of fish containing extreme levels of mercury can negatively affect neurodevelopment in growing babies.

"It can cause things like blindness, deafness and even mental retardation if taken in high amounts," Dr. Emily Sumner of Women's Health Professionals said.

Fish such as tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and big eye tuna contain the highest amount of mercury and should be avoided. However, mercury is found many different types of seafood and if taken in small portions can be nutritious. Fish is a low fat protein packed with omega-3 fatty acids which is why doctors recommend to eat seafood in moderation.

The FDA says to limit yourself to no more than 12 ounces of low mercury foods weekly, this includes: catfish, flounder, oysters, shrimp and salmon.

"Another thing to be aware of is that any fish caught locally you need to know if there are any local advisories," Dr. Sumner said. If there is no advice you can consume up to 6 ounces during a seven day period but avoid eating other seafood during that time frame.

Dr. Sumner says less than 2% of high level mercury fish is consumed in the southwest Georgia area and most grocery stores carry safe levels of foods that contain it. 

For more information about the guidelines and lists of seafood, click here.

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