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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10(6), 2150-2163; doi:10.3390/ijerph10062150
Article

Fish Consumption during Pregnancy, Mercury Transfer, and Birth Weight along the Madeira River Basin in Amazonia

1
, 2
, 2,* , 3
, 3
, 4
 and 4
1 Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Campus Macaé, CEP 27930-560, RJ, Brazil 2 University of Brasília, Brasília, CEP 0919-970, DF, Brazil 3 Federal University of Rondônia, Porto Velho, CEP 76801-059, RO, Brazil 4 Institute of Biophysics Carlos Chagas Filho, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, CEP 21941-902, RJ, Brazil
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 April 2013 / Revised: 16 May 2013 / Accepted: 17 May 2013 / Published: 28 May 2013
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Abstract

Birth weight can be a predictor of maternal health issues related to nutrition and environmental contaminants. Total hair mercury (HHg) concentration was studied as an indicator of both fish consumption and methylmercury exposure in mothers (and newborns) living in selected low income areas of the Madeira River basin, Amazonia, Brazil. This cohort study (n = 1,433) consisted of traditional riverines (n = 396), riverines who had moved to urban (n = 676) and rural (n = 67) settings, and tin miner settlers (n = 294). Median maternal HHg was significantly different (p = 0.00001) between riverine (12.1 µg·g−1), rural (7.82 µg·g−1), urban (5.4 µg·g−1), and tin miner (4.5 µg·g−1) groups studied. The same trend (of medians) was observed for newborns’ HHg which also showed significant differences between riverine (3.0 µg·g−1), rural (2.0 µg·g−1), urban (1.5 µg·g−1), and tin miner (0.8 µg·g−1) groups. The correlation between maternal and newborn HHg was statistically significant in the riverine (r = 0.8952; p = 0.0001), urban (r = 0.6744; p = 0.0001), and rural (r = 0.8416; p = 0.0001) groups but not in the mother-infant pairs in the tin miner group (r = 0.0638; p = 0.2752). Birth weight was significantly different among groups but did not show a pattern consistent with that of fish consumption (and HHg). A multiple regression analysis showed that only family income and gestational age had a significant impact on birth weight. Conclusions: Maternal HHg is an important biomarker of maternal fish consumption and of methylmercury exposure during pregnancy. However, in these Amazonian groups, only maternal education and gestational age seemed to affect birth weight positively.
Keywords: methyl-mercury; fish; pregnancy; fetal growth; gestational age; maternal education methyl-mercury; fish; pregnancy; fetal growth; gestational age; maternal education
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Marques, R.C.; Bernardi, J.V.E.; Dórea, J.G.; Brandão, K.G.; Bueno, L.; Leão, R.S.; Malm, O. Fish Consumption during Pregnancy, Mercury Transfer, and Birth Weight along the Madeira River Basin in Amazonia. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2013, 10, 2150-2163.

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