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Mercury Exposure in Womb May Be Connected to ADHD

EMSL Analytical provides testing services for mercury in food and environmental samples.


 As attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) rates rise in the United States, more research has been conducted to determine the cause. A new study on mercury exposure during pregnancy indicates that fetal exposure to the toxic substance may be linked to ADHD.

Researchers found that children exposed to high levels of mercury while in the womb have a greater chance of developing attention problems, such as ADHD, around the age of eight than those who are not.

The symptoms appeared to be more prevalent in boys, which researchers expected since previous studies suggested that boys react differently than girls to chemicals that affect the endocrine system.

The study observed 600 mothers and children living in New Bedford, Massachusetts. To test prenatal mercury exposure, hair samples from the women were analyzed shortly after they gave birth. Researchers concluded that when a child’s exposure to mercury exceeded 1 microgram per gram, their risk of ADHD increased by 40 to 70 percent.

Interestingly, the researchers discovered that fish consumption did not correlate with an increased risk of ADHD. They found that women who consumed more than two servings of fish per week actually had a 60 percent lower chance of having a child with ADHD symptoms. The authors of the study provided a possible explanation for this result, explaining that fish’s great nutritional value, thanks to their omega-3, fatty acids, and healthy fats, may compensate for mercury’s negative effects.

“Mercury is a metal that affects the nervous system, and in high concentrations it can cause detrimental effects in humans,” states Shannon Kauffman, EMSL Analytical’s Metal Laboratory Manager. “EMSL offers rapid results for mercury analyses in our laboratories across the country.”

For more information on EMSL’s testing services, please contact EMSL at (800) 220-3675, visit, or email .

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public. The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.



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