High maternal blood mercury level is associated with low verbal IQ in children

Kyoung Sook Jeong, Hyewon Park, Eunhee Ha, Jiyoung Shin, Yun Chul Hong, Mina Ha, Hyesook Park, Bung Nyun Kim, Boeun Lee, Soo Jeong Lee, Kyung Yeon Lee, Ja Hyeong Kim, Yangho Kim

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17 Scopus citations


The objective of the present study was to investigate the relationship of IQ in children with maternal blood mercury concentration during late pregnancy. The present study is a component of the Mothers and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) study, a multicenter birth cohort project in Korea that began in 2006. The study cohort consisted of 553 children whose mothers underwent testing for blood mercury during late pregnancy. The children were given the Korean language version of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, revised edition (WPPSI-R) at 60 months of age. Multivariate linear regression analysis, with adjustment for covariates, was used to assess the relationship between verbal, performance, and total IQ in children and blood mercury concentration of mothers during late pregnancy. The results of multivariate linear regression analysis indicated that a doubling of blood mercury was associated with the decrease in verbal and total IQ by 2.482 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.749-4.214) and 2.402 (95% CI, 0.526- 4.279), respectively, after adjustment. This inverse association remained after further adjustment for blood lead concentration. Fish intake is an effect modifier of child IQ. In conclusion, high maternal blood mercury level is associated with low verbal IQ in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1104
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Korean Medical Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences.


  • Blood lead
  • Blood mercury
  • Fish
  • IQ


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