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Scand J Public Health. 2017 Jun;45(4):444-451. doi: 10.1177/1403494816689310. Epub 2017 Apr 6.

Public health benefits of hair-mercury analysis and dietary advice in lowering methylmercury exposure in pregnant women.

Author information

1
1 Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark.
2
2 Odense Patient Data Explorative Network, Odense University Hospital, Denmark.
3
3 Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Odense University Hospital, Denmark.
4
4 Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, USA.

Abstract

AIMS:

To evaluate whether a public health intervention using focused dietary advice combined with a hair-mercury analysis can lower neurotoxic methylmercury exposure among pregnant women without decreasing their overall intake of seafood.

METHODS:

A total of 146 pregnant women were consecutively recruited from the antenatal clinic at a Danish university hospital at their initial ultrasound scan. Dietary advice was provided on avoiding methylmercury exposure from large predatory fish and a hair sample from each participant was analysed for mercury, with the results being communicated shortly thereafter to the women. A dietary questionnaire was filled in. Follow-up three months later included a dietary questionnaire and a repeat hair-mercury analysis.

RESULTS:

In the follow-up group, 22% of the women had hair-mercury concentrations above a safe limit of 0.58 µg/g at enrolment, decreasing to 8% three months later. Average hair-mercury concentrations decreased by 21%. However, the total seafood intake remained at the same level after three months.

CONCLUSIONS:

Increased exposure to methylmercury among pregnant women is an important public health concern in Denmark. The observed lowering of hair-mercury concentrations associated with dietary advice corresponds to a substantial public health benefit that probably makes such an intervention highly profitable.

KEYWORDS:

Intervention; cost–benefit evaluation; intervention; methylmercury; pregnant women; prenatal exposure; seafood diet

PMID:
28381203
DOI:
10.1177/1403494816689310
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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