Pregnancy Vivian | 17 Jun 2011 06:52 pm

Mercury Poisoning While Pregnant

While pregnant, a woman will always want to remain healthy in order to keep her unborn baby in good health as well. She might exercise; eat foods that are not at risk for carrying harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites; stay away from kitty litter; and medicines like Accutane. However, in her quest to eat healthily, she might turn towards fish as a good, lean source of protein. But what about mercury poisoning?

Mercury is an element sometimes called quicksilver that is the only metal that remains in a liquid state at the standard conditions for pressure and temperature. Therefore, it is a very useful substance, and something you probably have come into contact with regularly. Non-digital thermometers utilize mercury to take a person’s temperature.

Because it is now known to cause health issues, most things no longer contain mercury unless absolutely necessary. Although mercury was once used to treat things like syphilis and diaper rash, as well as used in teeth fillings, most companies are phasing out the use of mercury. However, some Chinese, Ayurvedic, and Tibetan traditional medicines still use mercury as an ingredient.

For normal, healthy people, exposure to mercury can cause problems with the nervous system, lungs, kidneys, vision, and hearing. As harmful as mercury can be for adults, it is even more harmful to children, and especially fetuses. If a pregnant mother suffers from mercury poisoning while pregnant, her baby may die. If it lives, signs of mercury poisoning include nervous system problems, mental retardation, developmental and learning disabilities, as well as hearing impairment.

Fish are sources of mercury as well as their beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. A pregnant woman can also take in mercury by breathing air that has remnants of burned waste, coal, and certain other industrial processes that involve mercury. The breakdown of dental fillings, thermometers, and some light bulbs may expose a soon-to-be mother to mercury.

Staying away from polluted areas and broken mercury-containing implements can help a pregnant woman from subjecting herself and her baby to mercury poisoning. Additionally, there are some fish that have lower levels of mercury so that a soon-to-be-mom can still gain nutrients from fish without putting herself or her baby at risk. Low-mercury fish include salmon, catfish, and flounder. Dangerous, high-mercury fish are species such as grouper, orange roughy, and swordfish.

Of course, it is impossible to predict and prevent everything that can go wrong during a pregnancy. However, if you feel that your doctor did not fully inform you of the risks of mercury, resulting in a birth defect to your new baby, this may count as medical malpractice. For more information on mercury poisoning in fetuses as well as other birth injury topics, check out the website of the Philadelphia birth injury specialist law firm Lowenthal & Abrams, PC.

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