Eating large fish may make kids vulnerable to mercury poisoning

January 7th, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, January 7 (ANI): Eating large fish like swordfish, marlin, and shark may make young children vulnerable to mercury poisoning, say health experts.

This proposition comes amid reports that high levels of mercury, linked to developmental delay and brain problems, have been found in three children in Sydney.

Health officials have revealed that the effected children, aged 15 months to two years, had consumed five times the recommended amount of fish.

Reported in the Medical Journal of Australia, the three cases were the cases of congee consumption, a rice and fish porridge used in Asian communities as a weaning food.

“Small children should eat small fish,” quoted health experts as saying.

Reba Meagher, New South Wales (NSW) Health Minister, said that gorging too much on certain type of fish might increase risks associated with childrens health.

“Incorporating two to three serves of fish per week into kids’ diets is a good thing, but some parents may be overdoing it with certain species known to be high in mercury,” she said.

However, Stephen Corbett of the Sydney South West Area Health Service, co-author of the study, insisted that childrens diet should still comprise of fish.

“Including fish in an infant’s diet has many health benefits including building a strong heart and nervous system. But some fish may also contain mercury which is not good for young, developing children,” Dr. Corbett said.

“It is important to be aware how children can enjoy the many important benefits of seafood while reducing exposure to mercury,” he added.

Acting Minister for Primary Industries Linda Burney said: “An easy rule … is that when whole the fish should be the size of an average plate.”

Lisa Szabo, Chief Scientist with the NSW Food Authority, revealed that leaving aside longer-living predatory fish, most fish were low in mercury.

“These fish such as shark or flake, swordfish, marlin and broadbill should not be included in the diet of small children. If they are eaten they should be limited to one serve per fortnight with no other fish eaten that fortnight,” Dr. Szabo said.

“Examples of low mercury fish commonly available are rainbow trout, ocean trout, flathead, kingfish and whiting - canned tuna and salmon are also good low mercury options,” Dr. Szabo added. (ANI)

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