Study Sees No Link Between Mercury Exposure, Autistic Behavior

The chemical is often found in fish, prompting many pregnant women to avoid the food

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One autism expert said changes to dietary recommendations are unlikely.

"Although fish is generally viewed as an excellent dietary choice, women have been advised to limit fish consumption when pregnant," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental & behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park, NY.

Even though the study showed no mercury-autism link, "it is unlikely that dietary recommendations will be revised in light of this study alone," he said.

Funding for the study was provided, in part, by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

"NIEHS has been a major supporter of research looking into the human health risks associated with mercury exposure," Cindy Lawler, acting branch chief at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said in the news release. "The studies conducted in the Seychelles Islands have provided a unique opportunity to better understand the relationship between environmental factors, such as mercury, and the role they may play in the development of diseases like autism. Although more research is needed, this study does present some good news for parents."

More information

The March of Dimes lists foods to limit or avoid during pregnancy.

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