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.
- Child development
- Developmental milestones
- Generalized additive models
- Semiparametric modeling
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis