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Pregnancy: Fish can “impair neurological development”

Pregnancy: Fish can “impair neurological development”

Fish is generally considered healthy. However, some types can contain a substance that is harmful – especially during pregnancy, warns the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.

According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid eating certain types of fish. The mercury compound methylmercury (MeHg) accumulates in fish, mussels, crabs and squid, the institute said.

Health impairments are not to be expected for most people. However, according to the BfR, the compound can disrupt the neurological development of unborn children and infants.

Shark, swordfish and tuna particularly contaminated

With regard to pregnant and breastfeeding women, BfR President Andreas Hensel pointed out that the intake of methylmercury can be reduced by avoiding certain types of fish. “This is especially important for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as scientific studies have shown that methylmercury can impair neurological development,” said Hensel.

The highest methylmercury concentrations were measured in large and older predatory fish, such as shark, swordfish or tuna. Comparatively high levels were also recorded in redfish. For the statement, the researchers evaluated data from a study in which the BfR investigated which substances are contained in food and in which concentrations.

Pregnancy: Fish stays healthy

Methylmercury is formed when bacteria absorb naturally occurring inorganic mercury compounds and convert them into organic ones. These can also reach humans via the food chain, as the BfR explained.

In addition to the possible intake of methylmercury, the health benefits of eating fish should also be taken into account: These include the supply of vitamins, trace elements and certain polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Source: Stern

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