IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 2238: Mercury Exposure in Mother-Children Pairs in A Seafood Eating Population: Body Burden and Related Factors (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Background: Mercury is a neurotoxin that affects neurodevelopment in children; however, its association at the lowest concentration is not clear. The main objective of this study is to measure and evaluate mercury concentrations in mother–child pairs and its association demographics, lifestyle, and dietary factors within the Pacific Island Families living in Auckland, New Zealand. Methods: Mercury exposure was assessed in a sub-sample of mother–child pairs who were a part of the Pacific Island Families birth cohort, in Auckland, New Zealand at the 6-year phase. Hair samples were collected from both mothers and their children to determine mercury concentrations. Total mercury was measured using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for hair samples. An interviewer-based reliable food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) examined the frequency of seafood by all the participants. Other variables such as sociodemographic (ethnicity and gender), lifestyle factors (income, education, and smoking status) and health outcomes (child behaviour and obesity) were also collected. Results: In this study, 41% of both mothers and their children had mercury concentrations above the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended value of 1 µg/g. Most of the participants ate fish 3 or more times a week. A significant correlation was observed between mother and child hair mercury concentrations (Spearman Rho 0.79 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.65, 0.88)). Conclusions: Mercury levels in children can be affected by their mothers’ levels due to similar eating patterns.