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Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2011 Mar-Apr;33(2):325-8. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Dec 9.

A longitudinal analysis of prenatal exposure to methylmercury and fatty acids in the Seychelles.

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University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.



Maternal fish consumption during pregnancy exposes the fetus simultaneously to methylmercury (MeHg) and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA). Data from the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study (SCDNS) showed a negative association of MeHg with child development when children were 30 months of age, only when controlling for LCPUFA. Concomitantly, n-3 LCPUFA were found to have a significant positive association only at 9 months. These findings suggest that the effects of MeHg and LCPUFA may vary with age over the first few years of life. We address this by including outcomes at two ages and adjusting for the child's age at testing.


A longitudinal analysis utilizing linear mixed models was performed to assess the associations of maternal hair total mercury (THg, a biomarker for MeHg) and maternal LCPUFA with children's Bayley Scales of Infant Development Psychomotor Developmental Index (BSID-II PDI) at 9 and 30 months of age, and to determine whether these associations change over time. Data from 228 children were included.


Maternal hair MeHg had a negative effect on BSID PDI, while maternal n-3 LCPUFA had a positive effect. These effects did not change significantly from 9 to 30 months in this analysis.


The longitudinal analysis provides increased power for estimating the relationships of prenatal MeHg and LCPUFA exposures during child development. Significant associations of these exposures in opposite directions confirm the importance of LCPUFA in development and the need to adjust for maternal nutrition when studying prenatal MeHg exposure.

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