By Berkson

There has been a steady trend in the last few decades in which children are developing issues historically seen in seniors. We see obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancers and even anxiety in younger and younger children. And of course, cognitive issues are part of this nasty mix.

There is an increasing incidence of attentional issues such as ADHD, Asperger’s Spectrum of Disease and other disorders like impulsivity control and inappropriate anger. Many of these get their start in the womb. This is exactly why planning a pregnancy and strategically detoxing prior to conception, for both parents, is making more and more sense. I’ve been writing about this for decades and it can’t be emphasized enough. The continued success of mankind is all about the next generation.

Research funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, has now published one of the first studies (out of Harvard) to examine how methylmercury exposure (from tainted fish) consumed by the a pregnant woman can adversely affect cognitive function in her child when it becomes an adult.

What the mom eats, the fetus eats and the adult becomes.

Industrial pollution in the air falls into ocean and rivers.  There it turns into methylmercury. It accumulates in fish flesh, some more than others. When a pregnant woman eats fish with high levels of methylmercury, or even when the dad consumes it before his sperm meets moms eggs, these exposures can get passed forward.

Scientists from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health show that prenatal exposure to methylmercury alters brain tissue of the developing fetus. Mercury exposure in the womb puts “limitations” on these nervous system tissues. They become less responsive to good life choices as the child grows into adulthood. For example, the adult that the womb exposed child has grown into, may gain less benefit from exercise!

Medical science has long known that the more you huff and puff and push yourself with high interval and aerobic activity (VO2 max) the better your brain’s plasticity and function. But no matter your huffing and puffing as an adult, if you were exposed to excessive amounts of methylmercury in the womb, your brain doesn’t get as much benefit from those efforts as it might. This occurs in adulthood, many years after the initial in-utero exposure(s).

Prenatal toxic exposures can tamp down your child’s ability to be all that they can be… when they grow up. Development of the brain and spinal chord is a delicate process. Nervous tissue is extremely sensitive to methylmercury as well as other environmental toxins such as endocrine disruptors (out-gassing from perfumes, wood stains, laminate floors, pesticides and more). These can hamper the health of brain and nerve tissue throughout your child’s adult life.

To protect the developing brain in the womb and in your child (the brain keeps developing all the way through the teens and somewhat into the twenties) women of childbearing age, pregnant women and children should only consume fish 2 to 3 times a week, as well as avoid fish known to be especially high in mercury.

5 helpful hints to protect your family:

1.     Low mercury fish include sole, salmon, shrimp, pollock, tilapia, catfish, and cod.

2.     High mercury fish to be avoided are tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.

3.     Have excellent air filters in the house

4.     Avoid high VOC paint, new cars with off-gassing chemicals, and other toxicants while pregnant, breast-feeding and for your growing child, as much as possible.

5.     Take your shoes off at the front door as many chemicals are carried into your home on the bottom of your shoes!


·      Pal Weihe, Sonja Vestergaard, Frodi Debes, Youssef Oulhote. Aerobic Fitness and Neurocognitive Function Scores in Young Faroese Adults and Potential Modification by Prenatal Methylmercury Exposure. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2016; DOI: 10.1289/ehp274

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