Poster Topical Area: Maternal, Perinatal and Pediatric Nutrition

Location: Hall D

Poster Board Number: 412

P13-155 - Breastmilk association of infant total blood mercury and related heavy metal concentrations

Sunday, Jun 10
8:00 AM – 6:00 PM

To optimize infant cognitive development, pregnant and lactating women are advised to consume seafood to support adequate breastmilk docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), but are also cautioned against mercury contamination. The upper reference limit is set to 9 ug/L blood mercury.

Objective. Our goal was to interrogate NHANES to investigate dietary and demographic factors that associate with total blood mercury concentrations in 1-year-old infants

Methods. NHANES data (1999-2014) on blood mercury, lead, cadmium, and diet, including breastfeeding, were analyzed using R. Weightings provided for data collected in the Mobile Examination Centers (MEC) were used to adjust for the intentional oversampling of selected groups. Final means and confidence limits represent true population parameters.

Results. One-year-old infants reported to have consumed breast milk in the 24-hour recall portion of the NHANES (n=70, unweighted; 0.71 ug Hg/L (95% CI, 0.47-0.95)) have higher total blood mercury than infants that were not reported to have consumed any human milk (n=1,225, unweighted; 0.43 ug/L (0.41-0.45), p = 0.029).

Infants who consumed seafood (n=612, unweighted; 0.56 ug/L (0.48-0.63)) had higher total blood mercury than those that did not (n=672, unweighted; 0.34 ug/L (0.31-0.38), p = 7 x 10-7).

Lead, but not cadmium, trends similarly to these findings for breastmilk but not for seafood consumption.

African-Americans have the greatest blood lead, while the "Other" category, including all ethnicities excluding whites, African-American, and Latino, had highest blood mercury. Blood lead decreases with increasing income across all groups<./p>

Conclusions. Breastfeeding and seafood consumption were both associated with greater total blood mercury in infants but are an order of magnitude below the upper limit. Many studies agree that both practices are beneficial to infant health and neural development. Lactating women do not meet recommendations for seafood consumption. Despite the mercury content of seafood, increasing maternal seafood consumption to recommended levels is unlikely to increase infant blood mercury or Pb to harmful levels.




Funding Source: Cornell University Department of Nutrition Sciences

CoAuthors: Tom Brenna – Dell Medical School

Amaris Williams

Graduate Student
Dell Medical School
Austin, Texas