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PSY FPX 6010 Assessment 2 Mercury as a Teratogen

Name

Capella University

PSY FPX 6010 Human Prenatal Development

Prof. Name

Date

Abstract

This white paper explores the various pathways through which mercury exposure can occur and the subsequent negative effects on fetal development. It highlights the prevalence of methylmercury in fish and recommends strategies for safely incorporating fish into diets. The paper also discusses the developmental hazards posed by mercury as a teratogen, such as cognitive deficits, and visual and auditory impairments. Additionally, it examines the financial burdens of addressing developmental abnormalities and provides recommendations for reducing methylmercury exposure.

Mercury as a Teratogen

During pregnancy, several factors impact both maternal and fetal health, with teratogens being significant contributors to prenatal harm. Mercury is identified as a potent teratogen, with about 1 in 6 women having elevated mercury levels, thus posing risks to fetal development. Mercury exposure sources are varied, including industrial air pollution and consumption of contaminated fish. The ingestion of methylmercury, commonly found in fish, poses a significant threat to fetal development due to its high absorption rate.

Developmental Risks of Mercury

Exposure to mercury, particularly methylmercury, during pregnancy can negatively impact fetal brain development, leading to sensory and cognitive impairments. The first trimester is the critical period of vulnerability to methylmercury, as it coincides with the formation of essential neural structures such as the visual and auditory systems. Methylmercury disrupts neurotransmitter activity, inhibits neuronal growth, and interferes with cell migration, resulting in structural abnormalities and reduced brain mass.

Implications of Exposure to Mercury

Children exposed to methylmercury face risks of various developmental disorders, including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and sensory impairments. These conditions require extensive medical interventions, specialized education, and assistive technologies, imposing significant financial burdens on families. The costs associated with caring for children with developmental disabilities underscore the importance of minimizing mercury exposure during pregnancy.

Minimization of Mercury Exposure

Efforts to reduce mercury exposure during pregnancy include avoiding high-mercury fish and choosing safer alternatives. Dental procedures involving mercury should be postponed during pregnancy, and alternative filling materials should be considered. Additionally, precautions such as avoiding mercury-containing household items and supporting stricter environmental regulations to reduce mercury emissions are essential for protecting maternal and fetal health.

PSY FPX 6010 Assessment 2 Mercury as a Teratogen

Conclusion

Mercury poses significant risks to fetal development, necessitating proactive measures to minimize exposure. By understanding the sources and consequences of mercury exposure, individuals can make informed decisions to protect maternal and fetal health. Strict adherence to preventive measures and advocacy for environmental policies are crucial in mitigating the adverse effects of mercury on prenatal development.

References

Berk, L. E., & Meyers, A. B. (2016). Infants, children, and adolescents (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Capella University. (n.d.). Turning Points: An Overview of Prenatal Human Development.

CDC. (n.d.). Mercury | Breastfeeding | CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/environmentalexposures/mercury.html

Gross, D. (2019). Infancy: Development from birth to age 3 (3rd ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Llop, S., Guxens, M., Murcia, M., Lertxundi, A., Ramon, R., Riano, I., … Ballester, F. (2012). Prenatal Exposure to Mercury and Infant Neurodevelopment in a Multicenter Cohort in Spain: Study of Potential Modifiers. American Journal of Epidemiology, 175(5), 451–465. https://doi.org/10.1093/aje/kwr328

March of Dimes. (n.d.). Mercury and pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/mercury.aspx

Neal, R. (2004). Mercury Dangers For Unborn. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mercury-dangers-for-unborn/

PSY FPX 6010 Assessment 2 Mercury as a Teratogen

SEED Coalition. (n.d.). Mercury and the Developing Brain. Retrieved from www.seedcoalition.org/downloads/mercury_developing_brain.pdf

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