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Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. 2010 Sep;40(8):186-215. doi: 10.1016/j.cppeds.2010.07.002.

Mercury exposure and children's health.

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  • 1Institute of Public Health, Medical Decision Making and Health Technology Assessment, Department of Public Health, Information Systems and Health Technology Assessment, UMIT-University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Hall i.T, Austria.


Acute or chronic mercury exposure can cause adverse effects during any period of development. Mercury is a highly toxic element; there is no known safe level of exposure. Ideally, neither children nor adults should have any mercury in their bodies because it provides no physiological benefit. Prenatal and postnatal mercury exposures occur frequently in many different ways. Pediatricians, nurses, and other health care providers should understand the scope of mercury exposures and health problems among children and be prepared to handle mercury exposures in medical practice. Prevention is the key to reducing mercury poisoning. Mercury exists in different chemical forms: elemental (or metallic), inorganic, and organic (methylmercury and ethyl mercury). Mercury exposure can cause acute and chronic intoxication at low levels of exposure. Mercury is neuro-, nephro-, and immunotoxic. The development of the child in utero and early in life is at particular risk. Mercury is ubiquitous and persistent. Mercury is a global pollutant, bio-accumulating, mainly through the aquatic food chain, resulting in a serious health hazard for children. This article provides an extensive review of mercury exposure and children's health.

Copyright 2010 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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