Human, low level, chronic exposure to mercury (Hg) from fish is of concern because of potential neurodevelopmental and cardiovascular toxicity. The purpose of the study was to 1) measure total mercury (THg) in blood and estimate dietary exposure in a population group with a wide range of seafood consumption, 2) assess the intake and blood concentration in relation to tolerable intake values, 3) characterise dietary sources, and 4) to investigate the relationship between dietary THg with THg in blood (BTHg), including factors that can explain the variance in BTHg concentrations. The participants (n=184) filled in an extensive food frequency questionnaire which was combined with a database on THg concentrations in Norwegian food, and donated blood and urine. Median consumption of seafood was 65 g/day (range 4 to 341 g/day). The calculated mean dietary THg exposure was 0.35 (median 0.30) ?g/kg body weight/week. Seafood contributed on average 95% to the exposure. The JECFA Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI) of 1.6 ?g MeHg/kg bw/week was not exceeded by any of the participants. BTHg ranged from 0.6 to 30 ?g/L, with a mean of 5.3 (median 4.0 ?g/L). There was a strong relationship between total seafood consumption and BTHg concentrations (r=0.58 95%CI: 0.48, 0.67) and between estimated THg dietary exposure and BTHg (r=0.46 95%CI: 0.35, 0.57). Fish consumption, sex, catching >50% of their seafood themselves, and living in coastal municipalities were significant factors in linear regression models with lnBTHg. Including urinary Hg in the regression model increased the explained variance from 54% to 65%. In a toxicokinetic model, the calculated dietary intake appeared to moderately underestimate the measured BTHg among the participants with the highest BTHg. Only two of the participants had BTHg slightly above a value equivalent to the JECFA PTWI, but none of them were women in fertile age.
Prenatal exposure to dioxins and PCBs is potentially harmful to the developing fetus and may increase the risk of delayed or impaired neurodevelopment. Several studies have reported negative associations between prenatal exposure to these compounds and aspects of cognition related to language in early childhood.
The aim was to examine the association between maternal low level dietary exposure to dioxins and PCB during pregnancy and language development in 3year old children in a large group of mother-child pairs participating in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa).
This study includes 44,092 children of women who were recruited to the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) during the years 2002-2009. Maternal dietary exposure to dioxins and PCBs was estimated based on a validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) answered mid-pregnancy and a database of dioxin and PCB concentrations in Norwegian foods. Exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs (dl-compounds) was expressed in total toxic equivalents (TEQ), and PCB-153 was used as marker for non-dioxin-like PCBs (ndlPCBs). Children's language skills at age 3 were assessed by parental report including a Dale and Bishop grammar rating and questions about communication skills from the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). Logistic regression models adjusted for confounders were used to examine the association between maternal dietary exposure to dl-compounds or PCB-153 and language development in children.
The maternal dietary exposure to dl-compounds and PCB-153 was generally low, and 98% of women had intakes of dl-compounds =14pg TEQ/kg bw/week, which is the tolerable weekly intake set by EU's Scientific Committee for Food (SCF). High maternal exposure (>14pg TEQ/kg bw/week of dl-compounds (median 2.6pg/kg bw/day, range 2-16) or >97.5-percentile intake of PCB-153 (median 11ng/kg bw/day, range 5-28) was associated with higher odds of incomplete grammar (in boys and girls, adjusted ORs 1.1 to 1.3) and severe language delay in girls, adjusted ORs 2.8 [95% CI 1.1, 7.1] for PCB-153 and 2.9 [95% CI 1.4, 5.9] for dl-compounds. Furthermore, high exposure to dl-compounds was associated with moderate language delay 1.4 [95% CI 1.0, 2.0] and lower communication score (ASQ), adjusted OR 1.4 [95% CI 1.1, 1.9] in girls.
The main findings of this study were: 1) Girls born to mothers who exceeded the tolerable weekly intake for dl-compounds or had a PCB-153 intake above the 97.5 percentile in early pregnancy may have increased risk of language delay at age 3years. 2) Negative associations with maternal exposure to dl-compounds or PCB-153 were observed for both boys and girls having incomplete grammar, which is a subtle reduction in language skills. This interesting finding should not be considered as deviant at this age.