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Posts for tag: Mercury

By contactus@priority-pediatrics.com
July 07, 2019
Category: Nutrition
Tags: pregnancy   nutrition   FDA   Mercury   Fish   Diet Advice  

FDA Updates Advice on Eating Fish for Pregnant Women, Children

Megan Brooks, July 03, 2019

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated advice on fish consumption for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, and young children, putting more focus on the health benefits of seafood.  

"Fish and shellfish are an important part of a well-rounded diet. However, we know many parents worry about mercury in fish and even choose to limit or avoid fish because of this concern. In fact, women in the US who are pregnant are consuming far less than the recommended amount of seafood," Susan Mayne, PhD, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a news release.

"Our goal is to make sure Americans are equipped with this knowledge so that they can reap the benefits of eating fish, while choosing types of fish that are safe for them and their families to eat," said Mayne.

Choose Wisely

In January 2017, the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a reference chart to help consumers more easily understand the types of fish to eat more or less of, based on their mercury levels.

The information in the chart remains the same. However, the revised advice issued July 2 expands information regarding the benefits of fish as part of a healthy diet by promoting the science-based recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The advice pertains to people aged 2 and older.

"While it is important to limit mercury in the diets of women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and young children, many types of fish are both nutritious and lower in mercury," the FDA said in the update.   

"The revised advice highlights the many nutritional components in fish, many of which have important roles in growth and development during pregnancy and early childhood. It also highlights the potential health benefits of eating fish as part of a healthy eating pattern, particularly for heart health benefits and lowering the risk of obesity," the FDA said.

Fish provides protein; healthy omega-3 fats; more vitamin B12 and vitamin D than any other type of food; iron, which is important for infants, young children, and women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant; and other minerals such as selenium, zinc, and iodine, the FDA notes.

Last month, the FDA announced it would allow certain "qualified" health claims stating that consuming eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids in food or dietary supplements may reduce the risk of hypertension and coronary heart disease.

The FDA continues to recommend that adults eat at least 8 ounces of seafood per week based on a 2000 calorie diet.

For an adult, one serving is 4 ounces (about the size and thickness of an adult's palm). Adults should eat two to three servings a week from the "Best Choices" list (or one serving from the "Good Choices" list). For children, one serving is 1 ounce at age 2 and increases with age to 4 ounces by age 11.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consume between 8 and 12 ounces of a variety of seafood per week from choices that are lower in mercury.

The 36 types of seafood on the best choices list include salmon, shrimp, pollock, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod, flounder, haddock, crab, clams, and sole. Nineteen varieties make the good choices list and include bluefish, halibut, mahi mahi, grouper, monkfish, rockfish, snapper, and striped bass (ocean).

The FDA recommends that everyone avoid seven fish that may be high in mercury: king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), and bigeye tuna.

The updated advisory also cautions that some fish caught by family and friends, such as larger carp, catfish, trout, and perch, may contain unknown amounts of mercury or other contaminants. It advises checking local advisories for information on how often it's safe to eat those fish. If there is no advisory, the FDA advises eating only one serving and no other fish that week.

 
By contactus@priority-pediatrics.com
October 07, 2017
Category: Immunizations

Correcting Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’S Vaccine ‘Facts’

 

September 22, 2017Original Article  By Paul A Offit

When people misrepresent facts on the record, journalists are in a tough spot — especially when that information can be harmful.

Which brings me to STAT’s recent interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., conducted by Helen Branswell. STAT wanted to interview Kennedy about his claim in January 2017 that Donald Trump would soon appoint him to head a commission on vaccine safety and scientific integrity. Seven months had passed since Kennedy had made the claim and no announcement had been made. STAT wanted to find out where things stood.

Branswell began her interview by asking Kennedy eight different times and in eight different ways where things stood on his commission. Each time, he failed to confirm or deny whether the White House was about to appoint him.

That clearly wasn’t what Kennedy wanted to talk about. Instead, he wanted to talk about his belief that mercury in vaccines is poisoning America’s children and that no one in the federal government seems to care. By insisting that the interview be conducted in the question-and-answer format, Kennedy effectively tied STAT’s hands, which had to print what he said without editorial comment or opposing views.

I feel compelled to oppose Kennedy’s claims.

During the interview, Kennedy said that some babies were being injected with 25 micrograms of ethylmercury, which is part of a preservative called thimerosol that is used in multi-dose vials of influenza vaccine. He claimed that amount to be “100 times” greater than the amount considered to be safe.

As an environmentalist, Kennedy should know that mercury is a natural part of the Earth’s crust. As a consequence, methylmercury (environmental mercury) is contained in water and anything made from water, like breast milk and infant formula. The human body eliminates ethylmercury from vaccines far more efficiently than it eliminates naturally occurring methylmercury.

Babies typically ingest about 360 micrograms of methylmercury during the first 6 months of life, well before they will ever receive their first dose of influenza vaccine. If the 25 micrograms of ethylmercury in vaccines is 100 times greater than what Kennedy claimed is safe, then simply by living on Earth, by 6 months of age babies will have ingested an amount of mercury that is 1,440 times greater than Kennedy’s safety limit.

According to Kennedy’s calculations, all of us are massively intoxicated with mercury. The only way to avoid this would be to move to another planet.

Kennedy also said that he wanted to ensure “that vaccines are subject to the same kind of safety scrutiny and safety testing that other drugs are subject to.” In fact, vaccines are subjected to greater scrutiny than drugs. Much greater. For example, the CDC spends tens of millions of dollars every year on the Vaccine Safety Datalink, a system of linked computerized medical records from several major health maintenance organizations that represents about 7 million Americans, 500,000 of whom are children. Nothing like this exists on the drug side. Frankly, if a Drug Safety Datalink existed, the problem with Vioxx as a cause of heart attacks might have been picked up much sooner.

Kennedy said, “We need to, prior to licensing vaccines, do gold standard safety testing, like every other drug approval requires. We need to do double-blind placebo testing.” Branswell knew that the FDA does require placebo-controlled trials before licensure. So she pushed back. “Sir, that’s done all the time,” she said. “That is done all the time.”

Branswell was right. Here’s an example of the kind of testing that vaccines are put through. One of the currently licensed vaccines against rotavirus was tested in a placebo-controlled, prospective, 11-country, four-year trial of more than 70,000 infants before being approved. That’s fairly typical of most pre-licensure trials. But STAT was stuck having to report Kennedy’s remarks as is, even though Branswell knew they were false. That was the deal. The interview had to be printed without contradiction.

Perhaps most outrageous was Kennedy’s claim that “the hepatitis B vaccines that are currently approved had fewer than five days of safety testing. That means that if the child has a seizure on the sixth day, it’s never seen. If the child dies, it’s never seen.” Safety monitoring for the hepatitis B vaccine, like all vaccines tested before being licensed, involved determining side effects in the vaccinated and unvaccinated group for weeks after each dose. Indeed, some subsets of vaccinated individuals have been monitored for 30 years after hepatitis B vaccination.

Throughout the interview, Kennedy never adequately addressed the new commission. Creating such a commission doesn’t make sense to me for two main reasons.

First, a vaccine safety commission already exists. It’s called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Staffed by epidemiologists, microbiologists, virologists, statisticians, molecular biologists, and clinicians, the CDC supervises the Vaccine Safety Datalink, which I described earlier. Whenever a new vaccine is licensed, this system quickly determines who’s been vaccinated and who hasn’t and detects any side effects that might be occurring more frequently in the vaccinated group.

Second, a commission for scientific integrity also already exists. Independent of the CDC, it’s called the Office for Research Integrity, and is housed in the Department of Health and Human Services.

It’s unfortunate that our culture, and our media, sometimes give celebrities a chance to comment without opposition on subjects about which they are often misinformed. It’s invariably the listener or reader who suffers this advice. Maybe journalists could at the very least add a cigarette-style caution to interviews like the one that STAT did with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Something like “CAUTION: Reading this article might be dangerous to your health.”

Paul A. Offit, M.D., is a professor of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. His most recent book is “Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong” (National Geographic Press, April 2017).