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Sci Total Environ. 2007 Mar 1;374(1):60-70. Epub 2007 Jan 26.

Mercury levels in cord blood and meconium of healthy newborns and venous blood of their mothers: clinical, prospective cohort study.

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  • 1Istanbul University, Department of Pediatrics, Istanbul, Turkey.



The purpose of this study is to investigate the chronic mercury intoxication in pregnant women and newborns living in Istanbul, Turkey.


The research was carried out as a prospective with 143 pregnant women and their newborns. Venous blood from the mother, cord blood from the neonate, and meconium were collected for mercury analysis. Frequency of fish and vegetable-eating and the number of teeth filled were investigated. Analyses were made in cold vapor Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS, microg/L).


Mercury levels were 0.38+/-0.5 microg/L (0-2.34) in venous blood of pregnant women, 0.50+/-0.64 microg/L (0-2.36) in umbilical cord blood and 9.45+/-13.8 microg/g (0-66.5) in meconium. Maternal blood mercury level was lower than the known toxic limit for humans (EPA, 5 microg/L). Mercury levels of the maternal venous blood were significantly correlated with umbilical cord blood. The primary risk factors affecting mercury levels were eating fishmeals more than twice a week and having filled teeth more than five. The fact that the mother had a regular vegetable diet everyday reduced the mercury levels. Increased levels of mercury in the mother and umbilical cord blood could lead to retarded newborns' weight and height.


Pregnant women living in Istanbul may be not under the risk of chronic mercury intoxication. Fish consumption more than twice per week and tooth-filling of mother more than five may increase mercury level. On the contrary, regular diet rich in vegetable decreases the mercury level.

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