Effect of hemoglobin adjustment on the precision of mercury concentrations in maternal and cord blood

Byung Mi Kim, Anna L. Choi, Eun Hee Ha, Lise Pedersen, Flemming Nielsen, Pal Weihe, Yun Chul Hong, Esben Budtz-Jørgensen, Philippe Grandjean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The cord-blood mercury concentration is usually considered the best biomarker in regard to developmental methylmercury neurotoxicity. However, the mercury concentration may be affected by the binding of methylmercury to hemoglobin and perhaps also selenium. As cord-blood mercury analyses appear to be less precise than suggested by laboratory quality data, we studied the interrelationships of mercury concentrations with hemoglobin in paired maternal and cord blood samples from a Faroese birth cohort (N=514) and the Mothers and Children[U+05F3]s Environmental Health study in Korea (n=797). Linear regression and structural equation model (SEM) analyses were used to ascertain interrelationships between the exposure biomarkers and the possible impact of hemoglobin as well as selenium. Both methods showed a significant dependence of the cord-blood concentration on hemoglobin, also after adjustment for other exposure biomarkers. In the SEM, the cord blood measurement was a less imprecise indicator of the latent methylmercury exposure variable than other exposure biomarkers available, and the maternal hair concentration had the largest imprecision. Adjustment of mercury concentrations both in maternal and cord blood for hemoglobin improved their precision, while no significant effect of the selenium concentration in maternal blood was found. Adjustment of blood-mercury concentrations for hemoglobin is therefore recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-412
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Blood analysis
  • Hemoglobin
  • Methylmercury
  • Prenatal exposure
  • Selenium


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