Main Organiser

Julius Centre University of Malaya

Co-organiser

Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malay

Supported by

University of Malaya

MERCURY LEVELS IN NEWBORNS AND ITS ASSOCIATION WITH MATERNAL CHARACTERISTICS - A PILOT STUDY

Author

Moy FM, Nuguelis R, Hoe VCH, Siti Zawiah O Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya

Institution

Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya

Abstract

Objectives: To establish the levels of total and methyl mercury in the new born infants and its association with maternal characteristics in a medical centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Methods: A total of 75 Malay women who met the eligibility criteria were enrolled in the study. Data collection was conducted through self- administered questionnaire enquiring on socio- demographic background, exposure to pollutants; while fish consumption during pregnancy was investigated through Food Frequency Questionnaire. Cord blood and maternal blood was collected and analyzed for total and methyl mercury levels.

Results: Most of the women had at least secondary education and majority (79%) were working. More than half of the women (57%) consumed fish weekly, followed by 22% monthly and 19% daily. Kembong (62%), Kerisi (17%) and Pelata Kuning (14%) were the three most commonly consumed fish among these women. Canned fish (21%) was also very popular among them. The levels of total mercury among the mothers and infants were 2.57 (95%CI: 2.31-2.84) and 3.74 (95%CI: 3.34-4.16) parts per billion (ppb) respectively while the methyl-mercury levels were 1.15 (0.89-1.41) and 2.29 (1.98-2.61) ppb for mothers and infants. Both total and methyl-mercury levels were significantly higher in infant’s cord blood (p<0.05). There was a positive and significant correlation between maternal and cord blood in the total (r=0.73, p<0.01) and methyl-mercury (r=0.63, p<0.01) levels. No significant association was noted between mercury levels with maternal fish consumption or mercury dental filling.

Conclusion: The levels of total and methyl-mercury levels among our infants were within the safe recommended limits. Our results provide some preliminary data for future research to be embarked on.