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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 1994 Apr;16(2):209-22.

Acute and chronic neuropsychological consequences of mercury vapor poisoning in two early adolescents.

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Department of Pediatrics, Ohio State University, Columbus.


Mercury is an extremely toxic heavy metal that can devastate the central nervous system. The neuropsychological consequences of mercury vapor intoxication have been studied primarily in adults. We present two adolescent half-siblings, ages 13 and 15, who were unintentionally exposed to concentrated mercury vapor for 3 months. Both children participated in neuropsychological evaluations shortly after being diagnosed with mercury toxicity, and again 1 year later. Results from the initial assessments documented functional deficits consistent with diffuse encephalopathy. Upon follow-up, neuropsychological functioning had improved, but deficits remained in visuoperceptual and constructional skills, nonverbal memory, and conceptual abstraction. The deficits persisted despite removal from exposure, return of urinary and blood mercury to acceptable levels, and resolution of neuropsychiatric symptoms. The deficits were similar to, but more severe than, those found in adults suffering from mercury vapor intoxication. The results suggest that the developing brain may be especially vulnerable to mercury vapor toxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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