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Pots - Mercury Poisoning A Trigger?


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I was talking to someone about playing with mercury as a kid (so many people used to do this, plus mercury hides in a lot of older things so many people get exposure at a young age).

I looked it up and found this article. Here is the part that really jumped out at me:

Mercury is known to affect the migration of brain cells in fetuses and might prevent the brain's signal transmission pathways from developing properly. The researchers think mercury also damages the autonomic nervous system, which tells blood vessels when to contract or relax and the heart how fast to beat.

I would think that this would show up as childhood/teen POTS, though, correct? It wouldn't pop up 25 years after playing with mercury, would it? Or is it bad just having mercury in things in an older house? Or possible contamination from fish, dirty air from power plants, etc?

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Mercury damage 'irreversible'

By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that methyl mercury contamination of seafood can cause heart damage and irreversible impairment to brain function in children, both in the womb and as they grow.

"If something happens in the brain at development, you don't get a second chance," says lead researcher Philippe Grandjean.

The findings come a week after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency doubled its estimates of how many U.S. infants are exposed to mercury in the womb. New data suggest that more than 600,000 infants are born each year with blood mercury levels higher than 5.8 parts per billion, the EPA level of concern.

Grandjean and his colleagues report in the Journal of Pediatrics that electrical signals in the brains of children exposed to mercury aren't transmitted as quickly as in unexposed children. They also found that mercury appears to weaken the heartbeat.

The researchers studied more than 800 children born in 1986 and 1987 in Denmark's Faroe islands, where seafood makes up a large part of the diet. Their umbilical cord blood was tested at birth and hair samples tested for mercury exposure at ages 7 and 14. The average exposure levels were similar to the EPA's recommended limits. In addition to the blood standard, the EPA limit on mercury levels in hair is 1 microgram per gram.

The Faroe study is considered the best available, so much so that in 2000 the National Academy of Sciences concluded it should be used by the EPA as the "critical study" for deciding safety levels for the deadly pollutant.

While the Faroese children consume a lot more fish than U.S. children do, it's also a problem in this country. As many as one in six U.S. women of reproductive age might have mercury levels in their body that could put their babies at risk, says Gina Solomon of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Mercury is known to affect the migration of brain cells in fetuses and might prevent the brain's signal transmission pathways from developing properly. The researchers think mercury also damages the autonomic nervous system, which tells blood vessels when to contract or relax and the heart how fast to beat.

Most mercury contamination comes from coal-fired power plants and plants that make chlorine and caustics often used in detergents, Solomon says. The mercury is absorbed in polluted water by algae, which is eaten by fish.

Researchers were unable to identify a threshold below which mercury did not hurt children. They found that at age 7 the children were behind about 1.5 to 2 months in development for each doubling of exposure over EPA limits. The delays found at 7 existed at 14, meaning the damage is probably permanent.

Women who are pregnant or who think they might become pregnant soon should be prudent, says Philip Landrigan, a professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai hospital. "That doesn't mean don't eat all fish, but maybe not sushi. And pregnant woman should limit consumption of canned tuna to no more than every week or two."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that pregnant women consume no more than 12 ounces of cooked fish a week.

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Interesting. You have to wonder about something like that I guess. Ive often done so.

Also think about hypermethylation - abherant epigenetic changes in the grand children of men involved in exposure to certain dangerous chemicals has also occured. Hypermethylation has been implicated in some forms of POTS.

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Very intersting post! I also played with mercury as a kid, tons of it, in fact. I would think I would have problems sooner. I was about 13 when I did this, and I started having pots symtpoms when I was 20. I always assumed the pregnancy triggered my symptoms, but have always wondered about the mercury exposure.

Is this something I should ask my doctor to test me for?

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I'm wondering too...just 'in case.' Firewatcher mentioned heavy metal testing so maybe we can bring that up with our doctors? Is it a fairly simple test procedure?

But you'd think it'd show up earlier. I bet, now that it's many years later, we'd test ok but any damage that's done is done! Or who knows about our parents and grandparents exposure to things in the past. That's almost impossible to track down.

It just seems POTS is getting more news coverage and is a fairly 'new' disease. I know it's existed, but wonder if it was this widespread or it's hitting more people now (like Autism supposedly is).

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I have constant heavy metal exposure through my work (mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, platinum, etc.)

They test through a hair sample, cut close to the scalp (absolutely painless.) Hair grows fairly slowly so they can see when you were exposed by how close it is to the root. Mine came back clean, even with the constant exposure (like I said, I'm very careful!) It wouldn't show a childhood exposure, that shows up in the damaged organ.

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