Subtle Consequences of Methylmercury Exposure: Behavioral Deviations in Offspring of Treated Mothers

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Science  18 Aug 1972:
Vol. 177, Issue 4049, pp. 621-623
DOI: 10.1126/science.177.4049.621


Overt neurological impairment is the endpoint currently used to document a case of methylmercury poisoning. No consideration is given to possible subtle consequences. Offspring from mice exposed to methylmercury on day 7 or 9 of pregnancy were apparently unaffected during postnatal development. However, subtle behavioral differences between treated and control offspring were found when the overtly normal animals were tested in an open field and evaluated in a swimming apparatus at 1 month of age. Brain weight, protein, choline acetyltransferase, and cholinesterase were not significantly altered.