Seafood Consumption and Blood Mercury Concentrations in Jamaican Children With and Without Autism Spectrum Disorders

Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences (EHGES), The University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston, Houston, TX, 77030, USA, .
Neurotoxicity Research (Impact Factor: 3.54). 04/2012; 23(1). DOI: 10.1007/s12640-012-9321-z
Source: PubMed


Mercury is a toxic metal shown to have harmful effects on human health. Several studies have reported high blood mercury concentrations as a risk factor for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), while other studies have reported no such association. The goal of this study was to investigate the association between blood mercury concentrations in children and ASDs. Moreover, we investigated the role of seafood consumption in relation to blood mercury concentrations in Jamaican children. Based on data for 65 sex- and age-matched pairs (2-8 years), we used a General Linear Model to test whether there is an association between blood mercury concentrations and ASDs. After controlling for the child's frequency of seafood consumption, maternal age, and parental education, we did not find a significant difference (P = 0.61) between blood mercury concentrations and ASDs. However, in both cases and control groups, children who ate certain types of seafood (i.e., salt water fish, sardine, or mackerel fish) had significantly higher (all P < 0.05) geometric means blood mercury concentration which were about 3.5 times that of children living in the US or Canada. Our findings also indicate that Jamaican children with parents who both had education up to high school are at a higher risk of exposure to mercury compared to children with at least one parent who had education beyond high school. Based on our findings, we recommend additional education to Jamaican parents regarding potential hazards of elevated blood mercury concentrations, and its association with seafood consumption and type of seafood.

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Available from: Manouchehr Hessabi, Jul 15, 2014
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    • "Pre-tested questionnaires were also administered to parents/guardians of cases and controls to gather demographic information, socioeconomic (SES) information such as ownership of certain household items (e.g., ownership of a car by the family), parental education levels, and potential exposure to cadmium through food by asking how often the child ate certain food items within a week, with a particular focus on the types and frequency of fruits, vegetables, grains (e.g., rice, wheat used for bread), and seafood. These food frequency data represent current typical consumption of food items by children (Rahbar, Samms-Vaughan, Ardjomand-Hessabi, et al., 2012; Rahbar et al., 2013). Types of fruits and vegetables were categorized into the following groups based on their characteristics and species: "
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    ABSTRACT: Human exposure to cadmium has adverse effects on the nervous system. Utilizing data from 110 age- and sex-matched case-control pairs (220 children) ages 2-8 years in Kingston, Jamaica, we compared the 75th percentile of blood cadmium concentrations in children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In both univariable and multivariable Quantile Regression Models that controlled for potential confounding factors, we did not find any significant differences between ASD cases and typically developing (TD) controls with respect to the 75th percentile of blood cadmium concentrations (P > 0.22). However, we found a significantly higher 75th percentile of blood cadmium concentrations in TD Jamaican children who consumed shellfish (lobsters, crabs) (P < 0.05), fried plantain (P < 0.01), and boiled dumpling (P < 0.01). We also observed that children living in Jamaica have an arithmetic mean blood cadmium concentration of 0.16 mu g/L which is similar to that of the children in developed countries and much lower than that of children in developing countries. Although our results do not support an association between blood cadmium concentrations and ASD, to our knowledge, this study is the first to report levels of blood cadmium in TD children as well as those with ASD in Jamaica.
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    • "Considering growing recognition of the effects of environmental exposures on brain development and function (Landrigan, 2010), and the increase in susceptibility during in utero development (Miodovnik, 2011; Miodovnik et al., 2011), some have suggested that environmental factors may contribute to de novo mutations, increasing risk of ASD (Kinney, Barch, Chayka, Napoleon, & Munir, 2010). These environmental factors could be mediated through pesticides (Roberts, Karr, & Council on Environmental Health, 2012), lead (Kim et al., 2013; Parajuli, Fujiwara, Umezaki, & Watanabe, 2013; Rahbar, White, Agboatwalla, Hozhabri, & Luby, 2002), arsenic (Parajuli et al., 2013; Rahbar et al., 2012), mercury (Marques, Dorea, Bernardi, Bastos, & Malm, 2009; Rahbar et al., 2013), or combustion pollutants (Tang et al., 2008). Given that environmental exposures include occupation-related exposures, it is also important to consider the possibility of parental occupational exposures as a risk factor for ASD (Williams & Ross, 2007). "
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    ABSTRACT: Arsenic is a toxic metal with harmful effects on human health, particularly on cognitive function. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are lifelong neurodevelopmental and behavioral disorders manifesting in infancy or early childhood. We used data from 130 children between 2 and 8 years (65 pairs of ASD cases with age- and sex-matched control), to compare the mean total blood arsenic concentrations in children with and without ASDs in Kingston, Jamaica. Based on univariable analysis, we observed a significant difference between ASD cases and controls (4.03 μg/L for cases vs. 4.48 μg/L for controls, P<0.01). In the final multivariable General Linear Model (GLM), after controlling for car ownership, maternal age, parental education levels, source of drinking water, consumption of "yam, sweet potato, or dasheen", "carrot or pumpkin", "callaloo, broccoli, or pak choi", cabbage, avocado, and the frequency of seafood consumption per week, we did not find a significant association between blood arsenic concentrations and ASD status (4.36 μg/L for cases vs. 4.65 μg/L for controls, P=0.23). Likewise, in a separate final multivariable GLM, we found that source of drinking water, eating avocado, and eating "callaloo, broccoli, or pak choi" was significantly associated with higher blood arsenic concentrations (all three P<0.05). Based on our findings, we recommend assessment of arsenic levels in water, fruits, and vegetables, as well as increased awareness among the Jamaican population regarding potential risks for various exposures to arsenic.
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