Prenatal mercury contamination: relationship with maternal seafood consumption during pregnancy and fetal growth in the 'EDEN mother-child' cohort

Br J Nutr. 2010 Oct;104(8):1096-100. doi: 10.1017/S0007114510001947. Epub 2010 May 21.


Maternal seafood intake is of great health interest since it constitutes an important source of n-3 fatty acids, but provides also an important pathway for fetal exposure to Hg. The objective of the present study was to determine associations between Hg contamination and both maternal seafood consumption and fetal growth in French pregnant women. Pregnant women included in the 'EDEN mother-child' cohort study answered FFQ on their usual diet in the year before and during the last 3 months of pregnancy, from which frequencies of seafood intake were evaluated. Total hair-Hg level was determined for the first 691 included women. Associations between Hg level, seafood intake and several neonatal measurements were studied using linear regressions adjusted for confounding variables. The median Hg level for mothers was 0.52 μg/g. Maternal seafood intake was associated with Hg level (r 0.33; P < 0.0001). There was no association between Hg level and fetal growth in the whole sample of women, except for an early negative relationship with biparietal diameter. A positive association was found between seafood intake and fetal growth in overweight women only which remained unchanged after adjustment for Hg level (birth weight: +101 g for a difference of 1 sd in seafood consumption; P = 0.008). Although seafood intake was associated with Hg contamination in French pregnant women, the contamination level was low. There was no consistent association between Hg level and fetal growth. Taking into account Hg level did not modify associations between seafood intake and fetal growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / chemically induced*
  • Food Contamination
  • Hair / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mercury / analysis
  • Mercury / toxicity*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Seafood*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / toxicity*


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Mercury