Prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from fish consumption and polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with child development at 20 mo of age in an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles

J J Strain, Alison J Yeates, E. van Wijngaarden, S. W. Thurston, Maria S Mulhern, Emeir M McSorley, G. E. Watson, T. M. Love, T. H. Smith, K. Yost, D. Harrington, C. F. Shamlaye, J. Henderson, G. J. Myers, P. W. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Background: Fish is a rich source of n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) but also contains the neurotoxicant methyl mercury (MeHg). PUFAs may modify the relation between prenatal MeHg exposure and child development either directly by enhancing neurodevelopment or indirectly through the inflammatory milieu.

Objective: The objective was to investigate the associations of prenatal MeHg exposure and maternal PUFA status with child development at 20 mo of age.

Design: The Seychelles Child Development Study Nutrition Cohort 2 is an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles, a high-fish-eating population. Mothers were enrolled during pregnancy and their children evaluated at 20 mo of age by using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development II (BSID-II), the MacArthur Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDI), and the Infant Behavior Questionnaire–Revised. There were 1265 mother-child pairs with complete data.

Results: Prenatal MeHg exposure had no direct associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes. Significant interactions were found between MeHg and PUFAs on the Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI) of the BSID-II. Increasing MeHg was associated with lower PDI but only in children of mothers with higher n–6/n–3. Among mothers with higher n–3 PUFAs, increasing MeHg was associated with improved PDI. Higher maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was associated with improved CDI total gestures (language development) but was significantly adversely associated with the Mental Development Index (MDI), both with and without MeHg adjustment. Higher n–6:n–3 ratios were associated with poorer scores on all 3 CDI outcomes.

Conclusions: We found no overall adverse association between prenatal MeHg exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes. However, maternal PUFA status as a putative marker of the inflammatory milieu appeared to modify the associations of prenatal MeHg exposure with the PDI. Increasing DHA status was positively associated with language development yet negatively associated with the MDI. These findings may indicate the existence of an optimal DHA balance with respect to arachidonic acid for different aspects of neurodevelopment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-537
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Volume101
Issue number3
Early online date21 Jan 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2015

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Seychelles
Child Development
Mercury
Unsaturated Fatty Acids
Observational Studies
Fishes
Mothers
Docosahexaenoic Acids
Language Development
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Equipment and Supplies
Infant Behavior
Social Adjustment
Maternal Exposure
Gestures
Arachidonic Acid
Cohort Studies
Eating
Pregnancy

Keywords

  • child development
  • maternal fish consumption
  • methyl mercury
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • docosahexaenoic acid
  • arachidonic acid
  • n–6:n–3 ratio
  • Mental Developmental Index
  • Psychomotor Developmental Index
  • language development

Cite this

Strain, J J ; Yeates, Alison J ; van Wijngaarden, E. ; Thurston, S. W. ; Mulhern, Maria S ; McSorley, Emeir M ; Watson, G. E. ; Love, T. M. ; Smith, T. H. ; Yost, K. ; Harrington, D. ; Shamlaye, C. F. ; Henderson, J. ; Myers, G. J. ; Davidson, P. W. / Prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from fish consumption and polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with child development at 20 mo of age in an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles. In: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015 ; Vol. 101, No. 3. pp. 530-537.
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Prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from fish consumption and polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with child development at 20 mo of age in an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles. / Strain, J J; Yeates, Alison J; van Wijngaarden, E.; Thurston, S. W.; Mulhern, Maria S; McSorley, Emeir M; Watson, G. E.; Love, T. M.; Smith, T. H.; Yost, K.; Harrington, D.; Shamlaye, C. F.; Henderson, J.; Myers, G. J.; Davidson, P. W.

In: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 101, No. 3, 31.03.2015, p. 530-537.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Prenatal exposure to methyl mercury from fish consumption and polyunsaturated fatty acids: associations with child development at 20 mo of age in an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles

AU - Strain, J J

AU - Yeates, Alison J

AU - van Wijngaarden, E.

AU - Thurston, S. W.

AU - Mulhern, Maria S

AU - McSorley, Emeir M

AU - Watson, G. E.

AU - Love, T. M.

AU - Smith, T. H.

AU - Yost, K.

AU - Harrington, D.

AU - Shamlaye, C. F.

AU - Henderson, J.

AU - Myers, G. J.

AU - Davidson, P. W.

PY - 2015/3/31

Y1 - 2015/3/31

N2 - Background: Fish is a rich source of n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) but also contains the neurotoxicant methyl mercury (MeHg). PUFAs may modify the relation between prenatal MeHg exposure and child development either directly by enhancing neurodevelopment or indirectly through the inflammatory milieu.Objective: The objective was to investigate the associations of prenatal MeHg exposure and maternal PUFA status with child development at 20 mo of age.Design: The Seychelles Child Development Study Nutrition Cohort 2 is an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles, a high-fish-eating population. Mothers were enrolled during pregnancy and their children evaluated at 20 mo of age by using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development II (BSID-II), the MacArthur Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDI), and the Infant Behavior Questionnaire–Revised. There were 1265 mother-child pairs with complete data.Results: Prenatal MeHg exposure had no direct associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes. Significant interactions were found between MeHg and PUFAs on the Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI) of the BSID-II. Increasing MeHg was associated with lower PDI but only in children of mothers with higher n–6/n–3. Among mothers with higher n–3 PUFAs, increasing MeHg was associated with improved PDI. Higher maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was associated with improved CDI total gestures (language development) but was significantly adversely associated with the Mental Development Index (MDI), both with and without MeHg adjustment. Higher n–6:n–3 ratios were associated with poorer scores on all 3 CDI outcomes.Conclusions: We found no overall adverse association between prenatal MeHg exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes. However, maternal PUFA status as a putative marker of the inflammatory milieu appeared to modify the associations of prenatal MeHg exposure with the PDI. Increasing DHA status was positively associated with language development yet negatively associated with the MDI. These findings may indicate the existence of an optimal DHA balance with respect to arachidonic acid for different aspects of neurodevelopment.

AB - Background: Fish is a rich source of n–3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) but also contains the neurotoxicant methyl mercury (MeHg). PUFAs may modify the relation between prenatal MeHg exposure and child development either directly by enhancing neurodevelopment or indirectly through the inflammatory milieu.Objective: The objective was to investigate the associations of prenatal MeHg exposure and maternal PUFA status with child development at 20 mo of age.Design: The Seychelles Child Development Study Nutrition Cohort 2 is an observational study in the Republic of Seychelles, a high-fish-eating population. Mothers were enrolled during pregnancy and their children evaluated at 20 mo of age by using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development II (BSID-II), the MacArthur Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDI), and the Infant Behavior Questionnaire–Revised. There were 1265 mother-child pairs with complete data.Results: Prenatal MeHg exposure had no direct associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes. Significant interactions were found between MeHg and PUFAs on the Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI) of the BSID-II. Increasing MeHg was associated with lower PDI but only in children of mothers with higher n–6/n–3. Among mothers with higher n–3 PUFAs, increasing MeHg was associated with improved PDI. Higher maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) was associated with improved CDI total gestures (language development) but was significantly adversely associated with the Mental Development Index (MDI), both with and without MeHg adjustment. Higher n–6:n–3 ratios were associated with poorer scores on all 3 CDI outcomes.Conclusions: We found no overall adverse association between prenatal MeHg exposure and neurodevelopmental outcomes. However, maternal PUFA status as a putative marker of the inflammatory milieu appeared to modify the associations of prenatal MeHg exposure with the PDI. Increasing DHA status was positively associated with language development yet negatively associated with the MDI. These findings may indicate the existence of an optimal DHA balance with respect to arachidonic acid for different aspects of neurodevelopment.

KW - child development

KW - maternal fish consumption

KW - methyl mercury

KW - polyunsaturated fatty acids

KW - docosahexaenoic acid

KW - arachidonic acid

KW - n–6:n–3 ratio

KW - Mental Developmental Index

KW - Psychomotor Developmental Index

KW - language development

UR - https://pure.ulster.ac.uk/en/publications/prenatal-exposure-to-methyl-mercury-from-fish-consumption-and-pol-4

U2 - 10.3945/ajcn.114.100503

DO - 10.3945/ajcn.114.100503

M3 - Article

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EP - 537

JO - American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

JF - American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

SN - 0002-9165

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ER -