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Neurotoxicology. 2007 Sep;28(5):924-30. Epub 2007 Jun 16.

Does prenatal methylmercury exposure from fish consumption affect blood pressure in childhood?

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  • 1Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14642, United States.



Prenatal exposure to organic methylmercury (MeHg) from seafood consumption has been reported to increase children's blood pressure (BP). A report from the Faroe Islands noted significantly increased diastolic and systolic BP in 7-year-old children as prenatal MeHg exposure increased. The Faroese diet includes sea mammals that contain MeHg, cadmium, and other pollutants. We examined this relationship in the Seychelles Islands to determine if it was present in a society exposed primarily to MeHg from consuming ocean fish.


We obtained BP at ages 12 and 15 years on children with known prenatal MeHg exposure enrolled in the Seychelles Child Development Study (SCDS). We examined the association between prenatal MeHg exposure and BP using longitudinal models and linear regression adjusted for relevant covariates.


Blood pressure at both ages was associated with BMI, height and maternal hypertension during pregnancy as expected. No association between prenatal MeHg exposure and BP was present in girls at either age or in either sex at age 12 years. At age 15 years diastolic BP in boys increased with increasing prenatal MeHg exposure, while systolic BP was unaffected.


It is unclear whether the association between prenatal MeHg exposure and diastolic BP seen in 15-year-old boys is of biological significance or if it is a chance finding. However, the finding is intriguing and deserves further study.

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