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Methylmercury exposure biomarkers as indicators of neurotoxicity in children aged 7 years

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The mercury concentration in blood or scalp hair has been widely used as a biomarker for methylmercury exposure. Because of the increased risks associated with exposures during prenatal and early postnatal development, biomarker results must be interpreted with regard to the age-dependent susceptibility. The authors compared regression coefficients for five sets of exposure biomarkers in 917 children from the Faroe islands examined at birth, 1 year, and 7 years. Outcome variables were the results of neuropsychologic examination carried out in 1993-1994 at age 7 years. After adjustment for covariates, the cord-blood concentration showed the clearest associations with deficits in language, attention, and memory. Fine-motor function deficits were particularly associated with the maternal hair mercury at parturition. Mercury concentrations in the child's blood and hair at age 7 years were significant predictors only of performance on memory for visuospatial information. These findings emphasize the usefulness of the cord-blood mercury concentration as a main risk indicator. They also support the notion that the greatest susceptibility to methylmercury neurotoxicity occurs during late gestation, while early postnatal vulnerability is less, and they suggest that the time-dependent susceptibility may vary for different brain functions.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Vol/bind150
Udgave nummer3
Sider (fra-til)301-305
Antal sider5
ISSN0002-9262
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 1 aug. 1999

ID: 215874525