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Most comprehensive study of mercury in dental fillings begins
Date:9/13/2007

The presence of mercury in dental amalgams, or fillings, is relatively common knowledge; however, whether its presence affects the neurological system is a debate that has been ongoing for 150 years. A new study beginning in less than a week will for the first time study whether prenatal exposure to mercury vapor from fillings affects neurological development.

As part of the worlds longest-running study of the health effects of low levels of mercury exposure, Gene Watson, D.D.S, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Eastman Department of Dentistry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, will begin an almost $3 million, National Institutes of Health-funded study on prenatal exposure to mercury from dental amalgams or fillings. Watson will collect hair samples from children in the Indian Ocean island nation the Seychelles, who were enrolled in a study in 2001 to determine their exposure to methyl mercury from fish and other seafood. He will also record how many fillings the children have and how many and which surfaces of the teeth they cover as an indication of exposure to mercury vapor.

Because these children were enrolled prior to their birth, more information is available than any previous mercury/dental filling study. This study can go back prenatally because we know what the mothers dental history was prior to and during the pregnancy, said Watson, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine and the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology. Little is known about detrimental effects of early exposure, and we need to examine this because studies suggest the developing brain is more susceptible to mercury than the adult brain.

Earlier studies on postnatal mercury vapor from dental fillings showed no significant effect on childrens neurological function. While comprehensive, those studies did not examine whether children may have been exposed through their mothers dental work while still i
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Contact: Heather Hare
heather_hare@urmc.rochester.edu
585-273-2840
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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