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Am J Epidemiol. 2012 Mar 1;175(5):451-65. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwr328. Epub 2012 Jan 27.

Prenatal exposure to mercury and infant neurodevelopment in a multicenter cohort in Spain: study of potential modifiers.

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Centre for Public Health Research, Valencia, Spain.


Vulnerability of the central nervous system to mercury is increased during early development. This study aimed to evaluate whether cord blood total mercury levels may have a negative effect on both mental and psychomotor development in a maternal-birth cohort from moderate-high fish consumption areas. Study subjects were 1,683 child participants in the INMA (Environment and Childhood) Project from 4 areas of Spain between 2003 and 2010. Cord blood total mercury levels were analyzed by atomic absorption spectrometry. Infant neurodevelopment was assessed around age 14 months by the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. Sociodemographic, lifestyle, and dietary information was obtained by questionnaire during pregnancy. The geometric mean of total mercury levels was 8.4 μg/L (95% confidence interval (CI): 8.1, 8.7). In multivariate analysis, a doubling in total mercury levels did not show an association with mental (β = 0.1, 95% CI: -0.68, 0.88) or psychomotor (β = -0.05, 95% CI: -0.79, 0.68) developmental delay; however, stratified findings by sex suggest a negative association between prenatal exposure to total mercury and psychomotor development among female infants (β = -1.09, 95% CI: -2.21, 0.03), although follow-up is required to confirm these results.

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