Subclinical effects of prenatal methylmercury exposure on cardiac autonomic function in Japanese children

  • Katsuyuki Murata
  • Mineshi Sakamoto
  • Kunihiko Nakai
  • Miwako Dakeishi
  • Toyoto Iwata
  • Xiao-Jie Liu
  • Hiroshi Satoh
Original Article


Objectives: The subclinical effects of prenatal exposure to methylmercury from fish consumption on the cardiac autonomic function were assessed in 136 Japanese 7-year-old children recruited for this study. Methods: Samples of child’s hair and dry umbilical cord preserved were collected, and hair mercury and cord tissue methylmercury concentrations were determined as current and prenatal exposure biomarkers, respectively. Cardiac autonomic indicators of parasympathetic and sympathetic activities were calculated from the electrocardiographic RR intervals measured. Results: In the children, the cord tissue methylmercury (0.017–0.367, median 0.089 μg/g) was not significantly correlated with the hair mercury (0.43–6.32, median 1.66 μg/g). The cord tissue methylmercury was related negatively to parasympathetic components of cardiac autonomic indicators (P<0.05) and positively to sympathovagal indices (P<0.05), even after correction for possible confounders such as age and sex, although the hair mercury was not significantly correlated with any cardiac autonomic indicators. Conclusions: Despite the potential limitations involved in the retrospective study, these findings suggest that prenatal methylmercury exposure (median of estimated maternal hair mercury at parturition, 2.24 μg/g) may be associated with reduced parasympathetic activity and/or sympathovagal shift.


Methylmercury Prenatal exposure Cardiac autonomic function Retrospective study 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katsuyuki Murata
    • 1
  • Mineshi Sakamoto
    • 2
  • Kunihiko Nakai
    • 3
  • Miwako Dakeishi
    • 1
  • Toyoto Iwata
    • 1
  • Xiao-Jie Liu
    • 2
  • Hiroshi Satoh
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health SciencesAkita University School of MedicineAkitaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology National Institute for Minamata Disease MinamataJapan
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Health SciencesTohoku University Graduate School of MedicineSendaiJapan

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