The Impact of Prenatal Exposure to Methylmercury and Maternal Nutritional Status on Child Development: Findings from the Seychelles Child Development Study
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Fish is an important source of nutrition worldwide. Aside from being an important source of proteins, fish contain a variety of nutrients essential for normal brain development, in particular n-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. Nevertheless, all fish also contain small amounts of methyl mercury (MeHg), a known neurotoxicant. For over 2 decades, the Seychelles Child Development Study (SCDS) in a series of investigations has examined whether any risks are associated with MeHg exposure that would result from daily ocean fish consumption during pregnancy. For the last decade, the potential beneficial effects of nutrients in fish have also been investigated. We describe the study design of the SCDS Pilot Cohort, Main Cohort, and Nutrition Cohorts I and II, followed by a summary of research findings to date. We conclude with a discussion of incorporating the risks and benefits of fish consumption in benchmark modeling, a statistical approach to risk assessment. Findings from the SCDS investigations to date appear to be reassuring regarding the risks and benefits of fish consumption during pregnancy. These observations in conjunction with our newly developed beneficial benchmark approach should be of interest to policy makers and regulators as they develop guidelines that incorporate data on both toxins and nutrients found in seafood.
KeywordsFish Consumption Wisconsin Card Sort Test MeHg Exposure Maternal Nutritional Status Boston Naming Test
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