Maternal Mercury Exposure, Season of Conception and Adverse Birth Outcomes in an Urban Immigrant Community in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.

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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 8414-8442; doi:10.3390/ijerph110808414


Adverse birth outcomes including preterm birth (PTB: <37 weeks gestation) and low birth weight (LBW: <2500 g) can result in severe infant morbidity and mortality. In the United States, there are racial and ethnic differences in the prevalence of PTB and LBW. We investigated the association between PTB and LBW with prenatal mercury (Hg) exposure and season of conception in an urban immigrant community in Brooklyn, New York. We recruited 191 pregnant women aged 18–45 in a Brooklyn Prenatal Clinic and followed them until delivery. Urine specimens were collected from the participants during the 6th to 9th month of pregnancy. Cord blood specimens and neonate anthropometric data were collected at birth. We used multivariate logistic regression models to investigate the odds of LBW or PTB with either maternal urinary mercury or neonate cord blood mercury. We used linear regression models to investigate the association between continuous anthropometric outcomes and maternal urinary mercury or neonate cord blood mercury. We also examined the association between LBW and PTB and the season that pregnancy began. Results showed higher rates of PTB and LBW in this cohort of women compared to other studies. Pregnancies beginning in winter (December, January, February) were at increased odds of LBW births compared with births from pregnancies that began in all other months (OR7.52 [95% CI 1.65, 34.29]). We observed no association between maternal exposure to Hg, and either LBW or PTB. The apparent lack of association is consistent with other studies. Further examination of seasonal association with LBW is warranted.


Funding for Open Access provided by the UMD Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund.