Methylmercury (MeHg) is one of the most hazardous substances that affects the fetus through fish consumption. The objective of this study was to evaluate the changes in the level of exposure to MeHg by assessing the mercury (Hg) concentrations of the segmental hair at parturition and 3 months after parturition, and to study their correlations with the total Hg concentrations of maternal and cord red blood cells (RBCs) and neonatal hair as biomarkers of fetal exposure to MeHg at parturition. In total, 40 paired samples of maternal hair from the scalp, maternal and cord RBCs, and 21 samples of neonatal hair from the scalp were collected at parturition. In addition, 19 samples of maternal hair from the scalp were collected at 3 months after parturition. The maternal hair samples were cut into 1 cm segments from the scalp end toward the tip. The geometric mean of the Hg concentrations in cord RBCs was approximately 1.6 times higher than that in the maternal RBCs, and a strong correlation coefficient (r=0.91) was found between them. The increase or decrease in the Hg concentrations of the segmental hair during gestation differed largely among individuals. The correlation coefficients between the Hg concentrations of the segmental hair and cord RBCs were the strongest (r=0.90) in the hair segment 1 cm from the scalp and decreased gradually with the distance from the scalp. The correlation coefficients between the Hg concentrations of the segmental hair collected at 3 months after parturition and maternal RBCs were over 0.9 in the hair segments 5 and 6 cm from the scalp, suggesting that the time required for the incorporation of Hg from the blood into a growing hair was very short. The geometric mean of Hg concentrations in the neonatal hair at parturition was similar to that in the maternal hair 1 cm from the scalp at parturition, and they exhibited a strong correlation (r=0.95). The findings of this study indicate that maternal hair close to the scalp at parturition and neonatal hair are useful biomarkers of fetal exposure to MeHg at parturition. In addition, the segmental maternal hair throughout gestation is essential to obtain important information on MeHg exposure during the different sensitive windows or bolus MeHg exposure during gestation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science(all)