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August 26, 1998

Methylmercury Exposure and Neurotoxicity

Author Affiliations

From the National Center for Environmental Assessment, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 1998;280(8):737-738. doi:10.1001/jama.280.8.737

Exposure to high levels of methylmercury has produced fatalities and devastating neurological damage among adult survivors.1 Severe cases of in utero methylmercury poisoning strongly resemble cerebral palsy and are often accompanied by deafness and mental retardation.1,2 In addition, clinically evident cases of neurological damage have occurred among infants born to mothers whose own symptoms were often only transient paresthesias. Consequently, the fetus is considered much more sensitive to methylmercury exposure than is the adult.

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