Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
Am J Ind Med. 2006 Mar;49(3):153-8.

Mental retardation and prenatal methylmercury toxicity.

Author information

  • 1Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Center for Children's Health and the Environment, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave K. Levy Place, Box 1043, New York, NY 10029, USA. leo.trasande@mssm.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Methylmercury (MeHg) is a developmental neurotoxicant; exposure results principally from consumption of seafood contaminated by mercury (Hg). In this analysis, the burden of mental retardation (MR) associated with methylmercury exposure in the 2000 U.S. birth cohort is estimated, and the portion of this burden attributable to mercury (Hg) emissions from coal-fired power plants is identified.

METHODS:

The aggregate loss in cognition associated with MeHg exposure in the 2000 U.S. birth cohort was estimated using two previously published dose-response models that relate increases in cord blood Hg concentrations with decrements in IQ. MeHg exposure was assumed not to be correlated with native cognitive ability. Previously published estimates were used to estimate economic costs of MR caused by MeHg.

RESULTS:

Downward shifts in IQ resulting from prenatal exposure to MeHg of anthropogenic origin are associated with 1,566 excess cases of MR annually (range: 376-14,293). This represents 3.2% of MR cases in the US (range: 0.8%-29.2%). The MR costs associated with decreases in IQ in these children amount to $2.0 billion/year (range: $0.5-17.9 billion). Hg from American power plants accounts for 231 of the excess MR cases/year (range: 28-2,109), or 0.5% (range: 0.06%-4.3%) of all MR. These cases cost $289 million (range: $35 million-2.6 billion).

CONCLUSIONS:

Toxic injury to the fetal brain caused by Hg emitted from coal-fired power plants exacts a significant human and economic toll on American children.

(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

PMID:
16470549
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk