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Should a woman who is not planning a pregnancy be concerned?

Mercury accumulates in your bloodstream over time and slowly leaves the body through urine, feces, and breast milk. If you eat a lot of fish high in mercury, it may take up to a year for your mercury levels to drop after you stop eating the fish. If you decide to become pregnant or if you have an unplanned pregnancy, you may have high levels of mercury. While elevated levels of mercury usually do not cause significant health problems, they may affect a developing fetus. If you are of childbearing age, try to follow the guidelines above when you eat fish.

Where can you get more information?

For specific information on:

  • The amount of mercury in commercial fish, see
  • The fish or shellfish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas, see

For general information on mercury in fish, see:

  • Your local health department or environmental agency.
  • The EPA mercury website at
  • The FDA seafood website at

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

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