Neurotoxicity Research

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 22–38

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

  • Mohammad H. Rahbar
  • Maureen Samms-Vaughan
  • Katherine A. Loveland
  • Manouchehr Ardjomand-Hessabi
  • Zhongxue Chen
  • Jan Bressler
  • Sydonnie Shakespeare-Pellington
  • Megan L. Grove
  • Kari Bloom
  • Deborah A. Pearson
  • Gerald C. Lalor
  • Eric Boerwinkle
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s12640-012-9321-z

Cite this article as:
Rahbar, M.H., Samms-Vaughan, M., Loveland, K.A. et al. Neurotox Res (2013) 23: 22. doi:10.1007/s12640-012-9321-z

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disordersBlood mercury concentrationsSeafood consumptionConfoundingParental educationJamaica

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad H. Rahbar
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maureen Samms-Vaughan
    • 3
  • Katherine A. Loveland
    • 4
  • Manouchehr Ardjomand-Hessabi
    • 8
  • Zhongxue Chen
    • 9
  • Jan Bressler
    • 5
  • Sydonnie Shakespeare-Pellington
    • 3
  • Megan L. Grove
    • 5
  • Kari Bloom
    • 10
  • Deborah A. Pearson
    • 6
  • Gerald C. Lalor
    • 7
  • Eric Boerwinkle
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences (EHGES)The University of Texas School of Public Health at HoustonHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Biostatistics/Epidemiology/Research Design (BERD) Core, Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS)The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)HoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Child HealthThe University of the West Indies (UWI)KingstonJamaica
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences/Center of Excellence on Development and Psychopathology, and Changing Lives Through Autism Spectrum Services (C.L.A.S.S.) Clinic, UTHealth Medical SchoolThe University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)HoustonUSA
  5. 5.Human Genetics Center, School of Public HealthThe University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)HoustonUSA
  6. 6.Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, UTHealth Medical SchoolThe University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)HoustonUSA
  7. 7.International Centre for Environmental Nuclear ScienceThe University of the West IndiesKingstonJamaica
  8. 8.Biostatistics/Epidemiology/Research Design (BERD) Core, Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS)The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)HoustonUSA
  9. 9.Biostatistics/Epidemiology/Research Design (BERD) Core, Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS)The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)HoustonUSA
  10. 10.Biostatistics/Epidemiology/Research Design (BERD) Core, Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS)The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)HoustonUSA