The Inuit population of Nunavik (Canada) is exposed to immunotoxic organochlorines (OCs) mainly through the consumption of fish and marine mammal fat. We investigated the effect of perinatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) on the incidence of acute infections in Inuit infants. We reviewed the medical charts of a cohort of 199 Inuit infants during the first 12 months of life and evaluated the incidence rates of upper and lower respiratory tract infections (URTI and LRTIs, respectively), otitis media, and gastrointestinal (GI) infections. Maternal plasma during delivery and infant plasma at 7 months of age were sampled and assayed for PCBs and DDE. Compared to rates for infants in the first quartile of exposure to PCBs (least exposed), adjusted rate ratios for infants in higher quartiles ranged between 1.09 and 1.32 for URTIs, 0.99 and 1.39 for otitis, 1.52 and 1.89 for GI infections, and 1.16 and 1.68 for LRTIs during the first 6 months of follow-up. For all infections combined, the rate ratios ranged from 1.17 to 1.27. The effect size was similar for DDE exposure but was lower for the full 12-month follow-up. Globally, most rate ratios were > 1.0, but few were statistically significant (p
The population decline of the nominate lesser black-backed gull Larus fuscus fuscus in the Gulf of Finland (northern Baltic) is caused by an exceedingly high chick mortality due to diseases. The chick diseases include degeneration in various internal organs (primarily liver), inflammations (mainly intestinal), and sepsis, the final cause of death. The hypothesis of starvation causing intestinal inflammations (leading to sepsis) was tested by attempting to reproduce lesions in apparently healthy herring gull L. argentatus chicks in captivity. The herring gull chicks were provided a similar low food-intake frequency as observed for the diseased chicks in the wild. However, empty alimentary tract per se did not induce the intestinal inflammations and therefore, inflammations seem to be innate or caused by other environmental factors in the diseased lesser black-backed chicks. They had very high concentrations of PCB in their liver; but the concentrations were not significantly higher than those of the healthy herring gull chicks, indicating a common exposure area for both species (i.e. the Baltic Sea). When compared to NOEL and LOEL values for TEQs in bird eggs our TEQ levels clearly exceed most or all of the values associated with effects. Compared with published data on fish-eating waterbirds, the DDE concentrations in the diseased lesser black-backed chicks were well above the levels previously correlated with decreased reproduction, while the residues in apparently healthy herring gulls were below those levels. The DDE/PCB ratio in lesser black-backs was significantly elevated, indicating an increased exposure to DDTs as compared with most other Baltic and circumpolar seabirds. The possible exposure areas of DDT in relation to differential migration habits of the two gull species are discussed.