Mercury levels in maternal and cord blood and attained weight through the 24months of life

Byung Mi Kim, Bo Eun Lee, Yun Chul Hong, Hyesook Park, Mina Ha, Young Ju Kim, Yangho Kim, Namsoo Chang, Bung Nyun Kim, Se young Oh, Mirim Yoo, Eun Hee Ha

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65 Scopus citations


Birth weight is a strong determinant of attained weight at early ages. Until now, many studies have reported that low birth weight corresponds with high mercury levels. However, the relationship between mercury exposure and attained weight of infant has not been well studied. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to assess the degree of prenatal exposure to mercury by measuring the total mercury levels in maternal and cord blood, and examine the relationship between the mercury level during pregnancy and the attained weight of infant during the first 24. months of life. The prospective cohort study of Mothers and Children's Environmental Health (MOCEH) was built up in 2006, and 921 mother-infant pairs were recruited. Information on the socio-demographic characteristics, health behavior and environmental exposure were collected from an interview with trained nurses. After delivery, infants and mothers were followed up at 6, 12 and 24. months and the weights of the infants were measured. The mercury concentrations in the late maternal blood (β = - 0.19 p = 0.05) and cord blood (β = - 0.36 p = 0.01) were negatively associated with the infants' attained weight over the first 24. months of age. The infants' attained weight in the small for their gestational age (SGA) group was lower than the normal birth weight group at the highest quartile of the mercury level. Therefore, efforts should be made to reduce the mercury level in the maternal blood at late pregnancy and cord blood. Further research on the possible harmful effects of prenatal mercury exposure on postnatal growth is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Ministry of Environment , Republic of Korea.


  • Infant
  • Mercury
  • Prenatal exposure
  • Weight


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