Mercury Exposure in Mother-Children Pairs in A Seafood Eating Population: Body Burden and Related Factors
Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland, Herston QLD 4006, Australia
Department of Chemistry FEPS, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK
School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies, AUT University, Auckland 0627, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(12), 2238; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16122238
Received: 8 May 2019 / Revised: 21 June 2019 / Accepted: 22 June 2019 / Published: 25 June 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental and Social Influences on Cognitive Development and Function)
Background: Mercury is a neurotoxin that affects neurodevelopment in children; however, its association at the lowest concentration is not clear. The main objective of this study is to measure and evaluate mercury concentrations in mother–child pairs and its association demographics, lifestyle, and dietary factors within the Pacific Island Families living in Auckland, New Zealand. Methods: Mercury exposure was assessed in a sub-sample of mother–child pairs who were a part of the Pacific Island Families birth cohort, in Auckland, New Zealand at the 6-year phase. Hair samples were collected from both mothers and their children to determine mercury concentrations. Total mercury was measured using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for hair samples. An interviewer-based reliable food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) examined the frequency of seafood by all the participants. Other variables such as sociodemographic (ethnicity and gender), lifestyle factors (income, education, and smoking status) and health outcomes (child behaviour and obesity) were also collected. Results: In this study, 41% of both mothers and their children had mercury concentrations above the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended value of 1 µg/g. Most of the participants ate fish 3 or more times a week. A significant correlation was observed between mother and child hair mercury concentrations (Spearman Rho 0.79 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.65, 0.88)). Conclusions: Mercury levels in children can be affected by their mothers’ levels due to similar eating patterns.