221958 Assessment of Mercury Levels in Mother/Neonate Pairs in Brooklyn

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 2:30 PM - 2:50 PM

Laura A. Geer, PhD , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, SUNY Downstate School of Public Health, Brooklyn, NY
Patrick Parsons, PhD , Division of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Albany, Albany, NY
Christopher Palmer, PhD , Division of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Albany, Albany, NY
Emmanuel Anum, PhD , Department of Biostistics, SUNY Downstate School of Public Health, Brooklyn, NY
Prenatal mercury exposure can interfere with essential brain development processes, and can cause developmental and language deficits. The most common route of prenatal exposure is through maternal ingestion of contaminated fish, and contaminated products (e.g., skin-lightening creams). This study assessed mercury levels in the urine of pregnant women and in cord blood collected at delivery, and examined sources of exposure in a predominantly Caribbean, urban immigrant population. A questionnaire designed in collaboration with health professionals from the Caribbean community assessed possible environmental exposures to mercury including fish consumption, ritualistic practices, occupational exposures, use of dental amalgams, and use of mercury-containing skin products and household products. Of the 190 participants, 78 provided cord blood samples. The geometric mean (95% CI) for total mercury in cord blood was 2.18 g/L (1.76-2.69), compared to 0.326 g/L (0.285-0.372) total blood mercury reported in CDC's Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals in the age group 1-5 years. The 95th percentile levels for our study and CDC's were 9.15 g/L and 1.80 g/L, respectively. Predictors of elevated cord blood mercury levels included higher gestational fish consumption and foreign birth of the mother. There were no reports of elemental mercury use in ritualistic practices or use of skin-lightening creams. This study highlights data gaps in the assessment of environmental risk factors related to mercury exposure in urban immigrant communities. Findings may help target interventions with respect to fish consumption habits during pregnancy and appropriate handling and disposal of mercury sources in the home.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Environmental health sciences
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
-Identify environmental risk factors associated with prenatal mercury exposure in urban immigrant communities -Discuss exposure reduction strategies

Keywords: Environmental Exposures, Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an assistant professor in the area of environmental health sciences, and I receive external funding for my research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.