Concerns over mercury in fish

Leo Trasande, MD, MPP Associate Professor, NYU School of Medicine, shares advice for parents on the importance of fish for children's brain development and which types of fish to avoid that have higher amounts of chemicals in them
Should Parents Avoid Feeding Fish To Kids Due To Mercury Concerns?
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Concerns over mercury in fish

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Fish are terribly important for children's brain development because they contain omega-3 fatty acids that are critical for various points in healthy development of cognitive skills and a host of other things that make them productive members of society, but at the same time, they can carry contaminants. The contaminants of concern that have been found in fish, in certain circumstances, are methylmercury, a particular form of mercury, and certain organic pollutants, such as a chemical called PCB, among other chemicals. It's critical that families take a healthy and balanced approach to fish consumption that emphasizes getting a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids into the diet while getting a low amount of mercury and other pollutants of concern that find their way into fish. In general, families should follow their state or local environmental protection agency advice about not fishing in waters where there is known pollution, and they should follow the Environmental Protection Agency's advice for reducing their consumption of certain fish that are known to be high on the food chain and to have higher amounts of chemicals in them--typically king mackerel, swordfish, and certain forms of tuna. In addition, there are a number of very good websites that provide an excellent breakdown of the relative amount of omega-3 fatty acids versus the other pollutants so that you can maximize the good and limit the bad.

Leo Trasande, MD, MPP Associate Professor, NYU School of Medicine, shares advice for parents on the importance of fish for children's brain development and which types of fish to avoid that have higher amounts of chemicals in them

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Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP

Associate Professor, NYU School of Medicine

Dr. Leo Trasande's research focuses on identifying the role of environmental exposures in childhood obesity and cardiovascular risks, and documenting the economic costs for policy makers of failing to prevent diseases of environmental origin in children proactively. Dr. Trasande is perhaps best known for a 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association study associating Bisphenol A exposure in children and adolescents with obesity, and a 2011 study in Health Affairs which found that children's exposures to chemicals in the environment cost $76.6 billion in 2008. His analysis of the economic costs of mercury pollution played a critical role in preventing the Clear Skies Act (which would have relaxed regulations on emissions from coal-fired power plants) from becoming law. He has also published a series of studies which document increases in hospitalizations associated with childhood obesity and increases in medical expenditures associated with being obese or overweight in childhood.

These studies have been cited in the Presidential Task Force Report in Childhood Obesity, and another landmark study identified that a $2 billion annual investment in prevention would be cost-effective even if it produced small reductions in the number of children who were obese and overweight. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Council for Environmental Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee for the World Trade Center Health Program. He recently served on a United Nations Environment Programme Steering Committee which published a Global Outlook on Chemicals in 2013, and on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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