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Sci Total Environ. 2017 Dec 15;605-606:251-257. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.06.227. Epub 2017 Jun 28.

Associations of prenatal and early childhood mercury exposure with autistic behaviors at 5years of age: The Mothers and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) study.

Author information

1
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, School of Medicine, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
2
Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Institute of Human Behavioral Medicine, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
3
Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Dankook University, Cheonan, Republic of Korea.
4
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ulsan University Hospital, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Ulsan, Republic of Korea.
5
Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
6
Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
7
Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea; Institute of Public Health and Medical Service, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Electronic address: kkn002@snu.ac.kr.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Although mercury is an established neurotoxin, only few longitudinal studies have investigated the association between prenatal and early childhood mercury exposure and autistic behaviors.

METHODS:

We conducted a longitudinal cohort study using an ongoing prospective birth cohort initiated in 2006, wherein blood mercury levels were measured at early and late pregnancy; in cord blood; and at 2 and 3years of age. We analyzed 458 mother-child pairs. Autistic behaviors were assessed using the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) at 5years of age. Both continuous SRS T-scores and T-scores dichotomized by a score of ≥60 or <60 were used as outcomes.

RESULTS:

The geometric mean of mercury concentrations in cord blood was 5.52μg/L. In adjusted models, a doubling of blood mercury levels at late pregnancy (β=1.84, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.39, 3.29), in cord blood (β=2.24, 95% CI: 0.22, 4.27), and at 2years (β=2.12, 95% CI: 0.54, 3.70) and 3years (β=2.80, 95% CI: 0.89, 4.72) of age was positively associated with the SRS T-scores. When the SRS T-scores were dichotomized, we observed positive associations with mercury levels at late pregnancy (relative risk [RR]=1.31, 95% CI: 1.08, 1.60) and in cord blood (RR=1.28, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.63).

CONCLUSION:

We found that blood mercury levels at late pregnancy and early childhood were associated with more autistic behaviors in children at 5years of age. Further study on the long-term effects of mercury exposure is recommended.

KEYWORDS:

Autistic behavior; Birth cohort; Blood mercury; Early childhood exposure; Prenatal exposure

PMID:
28667852
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.06.227
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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