Fetal Risks of Environmental Chemicals: The Motherisk Approach to the Organic Mercury Fish Consumption Scare

Zahra Jahedmotlage, Kathie Schoeman, John Bend, & Gideon Koren

Volume 63, Issue 6, 1605-1618

While fish is rich in essential nutrients and women are encouraged to consume fish products, fish may contain methylmercury, which is an established neurotoxin to the fetus. Not surprisingly, there are high levels of anxiety among women of reproductive age regarding fish consumption. To be able to counsel women in this complex area, we have developed a two-step program: (1) probing women of reproductive age for their perceptions regarding the safety of consuming fish, and (2) piloting an intervention program with women of reproductive age to ensure mercury levels are below the recently proposed Lowest Observable Adverse Effect Level. This method may be used as a template to improve the understanding of clinicians, legal experts, and policy makers on the fetal risk-benefit ratio of environmental chemicals.

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