Semiparametric modeling of age at achieving developmental milestones after prenatal exposure to methylmercury in the Seychelles Child Development Study

Catherine D. Axtell, Gary J. Myers, Philip W. Davidson, Anna L. Choi, Elsa Cernichiari, Jean Sloane-Reeves, Conrad Shamlaye, Christopher Cox, Thomas W. Clarkson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Controversy exists concerning the fecal risk associated with exposure to low-dose methylmercury from maternal fish consumption. Previous studies of the effects of acute prenatal mercury exposure identified delays in achieving developmental milestones among exposed children. This led to public health concern that prenatal low-dose exposure from fish consumption could adversely affect the fetus. We evaluated the effects of prenatal methylmercury exposure (through maternal fish consumption) on the age that children walked and first said words in the main study cohort of the Seychelles Child Development Study. We used semiparametric generalized additive models to identify nonlinearities in the relationships between prenatal exposure and developmental outcomes, after adjusting for covariates, and to evaluate their importance. Very slight delays (< 1 day) in walking were seen as mercury levels increased from 0 to 7 ppm, but this effect did not persist at the higher exposure levels represented by the cohort, making it difficult to conclude that a cause and effect relationship existed at the exposure levels seen in this cohort. There was no evidence for any association between prenatal exposure and age at talking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-564
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Volume106
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Child development
  • Developmental milestones
  • Generalized additive models
  • Methylmercury
  • Semiparametric modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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