Dr. Gideon Koren of the Mother Risk Program, who is a regular columnist for Family Practice News, discussed recent FDA guidelines that pregnant women should avoid shark, mackerel, and swordfish altogether but are allowed only 12 ounces a week of fish and shellfish, due to their mercury content. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can cause birth defects. His organization gives these recommendations but also offers their women a hair mercury test, which he says is available at most university medical centers. This is quite a turn of events and an out-of-date statement at the same time. Twenty years ago, if an alternative doctor ordered a hair analysis, medical boards considered that grounds to threaten his or her license. Now few alternative doctors use hair analyses because they are only positive if the patient excretes the mercury instead of storing it. Much more accurate is a challenge test to see how much of the mercury in the body you can pull out (or chelate). Preferably, the test should be done before the pregnancy to develop the best treatment and prevention strategy if mercury or other toxic metals are present.
See Family Practice News(click here), July, 2010 issue, p. 37.