Prenatal low-level mercury exposure and neonatal anthropometry in rural northern China.

Chemosphere

PubMedID: 23411084

Ding G, Cui C, Chen L, Gao Y, Zhou Y, Shi R, Tian Y. Prenatal low-level mercury exposure and neonatal anthropometry in rural northern China. Chemosphere. 2013;92(9):1085-9.
Mercury (Hg) is a ubiquitous heavy metal that can negatively affect human health; however, few studies have examined the impact of prenatal low-level Hg exposure on fetal growth. We investigated prenatal exposure levels of Hg and the relationship between Hg levels and neonatal anthropometrics, including birth weight, length, and head circumference. A total of 258 mother-infant pairs were recruited from a rural community located on the southern coastal area of Laizhou Bay of the Bohai Sea in northern China between September 2010 and December 2011. We measured maternal and cord whole blood Hg levels and examined their association with neonatal anthropometrics. The geometric means (GMs) of Hg in maternal and cord whole blood were 0.84µgL(-1) and 1.46µgL(-1), respectively. The Hg exposure levels in our study population were much lower than those reported in previous domestic studies. No significant associations were found between maternal or cord blood Hg levels and birth weight, length, and head circumference. However, our results should be interpreted with caution given the high toxicity of Hg and its persistence in the body. Studies focusing on long-term adverse outcomes are needed to further examine the cumulative effects of low-level Hg exposure.