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Environ Int. 2017 May;102:97-105. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.02.004. Epub 2017 Feb 17.

Methylmercury exposure and cognitive abilities and behavior at 10years of age.

Author information

1
Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Box 210, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.
2
International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), Dhaka, Bangladesh.
3
Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Box 210, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address: Maria.Kippler@ki.se.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Methylmercury (MeHg) is a known developmental neurotoxicant present in fish, yet the impact of childhood exposure is uncertain, especially in children with poor nutrition.

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate associations of MeHg exposure with cognitive abilities and behavior in children from a poor rural area in Bangladesh.

METHODS:

The MeHg exposure was assessed in 1434 ten-year-old children by measuring mercury concentrations in hair (hair-Hg), using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Cognitive abilities were assessed with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (4th edition), and behavior by the parent-report Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.

RESULTS:

Children's median hair-Hg was 674μg/kg (range 70-17,561μg/kg). Concentrations did not differ by distance from scalp, indicating a similar exposure over time. No multivariable-adjusted associations were observed between the children's hair-Hg and their cognitive abilities. However, children in the highest tertile of hair-Hg had a lower prevalence of hyperactivity (OR: 0.61, 95% CI: 0.45-0.83) and peer relationship problems (OR: 0.58, 95% CI: 0.44-0.76), compared to children in the lowest tertile. The corresponding ORs were slightly stronger in children from families with lower socioeconomic status (OR: 0.56, 95% CI: 0.34-0.90 and OR: 0.48, 95% CI: 0.30-0.74) than in children from families with higher socioeconomic status (OR: 0.73, 95% CI: 0.49-1.08 and OR: 0.72, 95% CI: 0.51-1.02). Similar stronger ORs were observed in underweight children.

CONCLUSION:

MeHg exposure was not associated with cognitive function, but inversely associated with certain adverse behavior. More studies are needed concerning the risk-benefit of different fish consumption in rural Bangladesh.

KEYWORDS:

Behavior; Fish pollutant; Hair; Methylmercury; Neurodevelopment; Risk-benefit

PMID:
28216013
DOI:
10.1016/j.envint.2017.02.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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