The link between autism and mercury has once again been debunked. Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center conducted a large cohort study involving mothers and children in the Seychelles, an Indian Ocean nation where residents are known to consume especially high amounts of ocean fish. They found no association between the methylmercury levels in mothers and their children s scores on autism screening tests.
Researchers administered the Social Communication Questionnaire widely used as a screening tool for symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders to parents of about 2,000 children, adolescents and young adults. Although eight percent of those mothers received a score of 15 or greater the cutoff indicating that further assessment for autism may be needed prenatal methylmercury levels were not associated with those scores. And although 34 percent of the children scored above the cutoff on the Social Responsiveness Scale, no association was found between mercury levels and those scores.
According to Dr. Philip Davidson, an emeritus professor at University of Rochester Medical Center and principal investigator of the study, This study shows no consistent association in children with mothers with mercury levels that were six to 10 times higher than those found in the U.S. and Europe. This is a sentinel population and if it does not exist here than it probably does not exist.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava adds, Fish is a healthful food and the purported link between mercury and autism should not scare you away from consuming fish. This study is just one of many examples demonstrating that this link is nonexistent. The poison is in the dose and even though these people had levels of mercury higher than anything seen in the United States or Europe, they were not related to the risk of autism.