Chronic mercury exposure and blood pressure in children and adolescents: a systematic review

Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2019 Jan;26(3):2238-2252. doi: 10.1007/s11356-018-3796-y. Epub 2018 Dec 6.


The aim of this paper is to systematically review the scientific literature on the possible relation of chronic mercury exposure and blood pressure among children and adolescents. We searched for observational studies in 6 electronic databases and grey literature for English, French or Spanish language studies published up to 30th November 2017. We performed a quality assessment of primary studies. We identified 8 articles involving 5 cohorts, 1 cross-sectional study and 1 case-control study. The participants had mean ages of between 3 and 17 years. Mercury was analysed in different matrices and periods of exposure. Four articles evaluated prenatal exposure, 2 evaluated both prenatal and postnatal exposures and 2 postnatal exposure. Blood pressure was measured according to different protocols. The association between mercury and blood pressure was adjusted by different covariates in each study. Four articles found a positive significant association between chronic mercury exposure and blood pressure in children or adolescents. Among these 4 articles, three of them evaluated prenatal exposure. There are still few studies assessing chronic mercury exposure and blood pressure in children and adolescents with inconsistency in results. Designs are very heterogeneous, which hampers their comparability. Evidence of this association is scarce and further research is needed.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Cardiovascular; Environmental exposure; Epidemiology; Mercury; Paediatrics; Public health.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / blood
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects
  • Mercury / blood
  • Mercury / pharmacology*
  • Pregnancy


  • Mercury