The Connection Between Mercury and Premature Births
Pregnant women often hear from their family and friends, “Don’t eat fish!” Many women don’t have all the facts relating to the possible dangers of eating fish during pregnancy or that it is safe to eat amounts of certain fish causing harm to their babies.
The danger in eating fish comes from ingesting too much mercury during pregnancy. Some studies, including a recent one done in Korea, conclude that high levels of mercury in a woman’s blood stream during pregnancy can be transferred to her unborn baby through the umbilical cord, causing birth defects, and in some cases, premature birth. In fact, women with high levels of mercury found in the cord blood are 3-5 times more likely to deliver a baby prematurely, i.e. before the 37th week of pregnancy, than women without mercury in their cord blood.
However, many experts disagree if the warning about eating fish includes ALL fish, or if certain types of fish are okay to eat occasionally during pregnancy. Some believe that salmon and other small fish are okay to eat during pregnancy while all bigger fish like tuna, swordfish, mackerel and shark should be avoided. The study in Korea concluded that “woman who never had fish during pregnancy had 4.6 micrograms of mercury per 1 liter of blood, while the mercury level of women who consumed fish more than four times per week had an average mercury level of 8.3 micrograms” although it never stated what type of fish the women ate, or commented on what kinds were considered safe during pregnancy.
Mercury risk to pregnant women and their unborn babies can also be found in other places too. There are also dental procedures that involve the use of amalgams that can put an unborn baby at risk. A dental amalgam is a mixture of mercury, and an alloy of silver, tin and copper. Mercury makes up about 45-50 percent of the compound. Mercury is used to bind the metals together and to provide a strong, hard, and durable filling that is used to fill cavities in your teeth. Because of the high amount of mercury, it is suggested that you not get fillings during pregnancy unless absolutely necessary, and that if you have to get fillings, that you try to avoid getting more than three until after your baby is born.
Many people don’t realize it, but there is actually a large percentage of mercury in the air that we breathe in daily in many parts of the world. Air pollution makes it very hard to steer clear of mercury and more effort may be needed in staying away from all fish and avoiding the dentist’s office during pregnancy, Take as many precautions as you can when it comes to mercury, in order to have the healthiest pregnancy possible, and to help avoid a premature delivery of your baby.
Do you know your baby's birth stone? Birth Flower? How about when you'll be handing over the car keys? Check out our popular Fun Birthday Facts Calculator to discover fun trivia about your baby's birth or due date!