TitleMaternal methylmercury exposure through rice ingestion and child neurodevelopment in the first three years: a prospective cohort study in rural China.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsRothenberg, SE, Korrick, SA, Liu, J, Nong, Y, Nong, H, Hong, C, Trinh, EP, Jiang, X, Biasini, FJ, Ouyang, F
JournalEnviron Health
Date Published04/2021

BACKGROUND: Rice is an important dietary source for methylmercury; however, rice does not contain the same beneficial nutrients as fish. Our main objective was to assess associations of prenatal methylmercury exposure through rice ingestion with child neurodevelopment in rural China.

METHODS: Eligible peripartum women were enrolled (n = 391), provided peripartum hair samples, and children's neurodevelopment was assessed at 12 months (n = 264, 68%) and 36 months (n = 190, 48%) using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, 2nd Edition, including the Mental Developmental Index (MDI) and the Psychomotor Developmental Index (PDI). Associations between prenatal methylmercury exposure during the third trimester [log maternal hair total mercury (THg)] and child's neurodevelopment were assessed using linear mixed models for repeated measures.

RESULTS: In adjusted models, a doubling in maternal hair THg corresponded to a 1.3-point decrement in the MDI score [95% confidence interval (CI): - 2.6, - 0.14], and a 1.2-point decrement in the PDI score (95% CI: - 2.6, 0.14). Overall, adverse associations between maternal hair THg and MDI scores attenuated over time. However, associations were robust and stable over time among children whose primary caregiver was their parent(s). During the study follow-up, an increasing proportion of children were raised by grandparents (12 months: 9% versus 36 months: 27%), a trend associated with rural-to-urban parental migration for work.

CONCLUSIONS: For young children living in rural China, a biomarker of prenatal methylmercury exposure was associated with decrements in cognitive function assessed between 12 and 36 months of age. Changes in the family structure over the study follow-up time interval potentially impacted children's sensitivity to prenatal methylmercury exposure.

Alternate JournalEnviron Health
PubMed ID33910568
PubMed Central IDPMC8082930
Grant ListR21ES026412 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States
L30ES023165 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States
81961128023 / / National Natural Science Foundation of China /