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Mercury Exposure from Seafood Consumption During Pregnancy May Impact Child Growth, Experts Say

According to a recent study that low mercury exposure levels from moderate consumption of seafood among mothers appear to have a weak negative impact on child growth projections.

Photo: Pregnant Woman | InStyleHealth

The research involved 51,952 mother-child pairs recruited in pregnancy and a subsample with maternal mercury concentrations in whole blood. The individual growth projections were calculated by modeling based on child’s reported weight and height from 1 month to 8 years old.

Average maternal weekly consumption were 2.4 servings of total seafood, 1.3 servings of lean fish, and 0.6 servings of fatty fish during pregnancy period. There were 66% percent of the women population reported any consumption of other seafood, with a weekly average of 0.3 servings. Overall, 485 of the population consumed 2 – 3 servings of total seafood and 13% consumed >3 servings per week during pregnancy period.

Using linear mixed-effects regression analysis presented that maternal lean fish was accounted for most of the total seafood consumption in pregnancy and was positively but weakly correlated with the child body mass index (BMI) growth curve.

However, higher prenatal mercury exposure associated with a reduction in child’s weight growth curve, with the estimates ranging from 130 grams at 18 months to 608 grams at 8 years.

Apparently, maternal fatty fish consumption was positively correlated to child weight and BMI growth curve, but only in the higher mercury-exposed children. Other seafood intake during pregnancy was negatively correlated with child weight growth relative to no consumption, and this was evident among higher mercury-exposed children.

No correlation was established between discordant maternal seafood consumption and child growth in the sibling analysis.

Current data on maternal seafood consumption are likely noncausal, according to the researchers who conducted the study. For complete details of the clinical research, click here.


Source: Int J Epidemiol 2021;doi:10.1093/ije/dyab035

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