Maternal PUFA status but not prenatal methylmercury exposure Is associated with children's language functions at age five years in the Seychelles

Sean J J Strain, Philip W Davidson, Sally W Thurston, Donald Harrington, Maria Mulhern, Alison J McAfee, Edwin van Wijngaarden, Conrad F Shamlaye, Juliette Henderson, Gene E Watson, Grazyna Zareba, Deborah A Cory-Slechta, Miranda L Lynch, Julie M W Wallace, Emeir M McSorley, Maxine Penelope Bonham, Abbie Stokes-Riner, Jean Sloane-Reeves, Joanne Janciuras, Rosa WongThomas W Clarkson, Gary J Myers

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Evidence from the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study suggests that maternal nutritional status can modulate the relationship between prenatal methylmercury (MeHg) exposure and developmental outcomes in children. The aim of this study was to investigate whether maternal PUFA status was a confounding factor in any possible associations between prenatal MeHg exposure and developmental outcomes at 5 y of age in the Republic of Seychelles. Maternal status of (n-3) and (n-6) PUFA were measured in serum collected at 28 wk gestation and delivery. Prenatal MeHg exposure was determined in maternal hair collected at delivery. At 5 y of age, the children completed a comprehensive range of sensitive developmental assessments. Complete data from 225 mothers and their children were available for analysis. Multiple linear regression analyses revealed Preschool Language Scale scores of the children improved with increasing maternal serum DHA [22:6(n-3)] concentrations and decreased with increasing arachidonic acid [20:4(n-6)] concentrations, albeit verbal intelligence improved with increasing (n-6) PUFA concentrations in maternal serum. There were no adverse associations between MeHg exposure and developmental outcomes. These findings suggest that higher fish consumption, resulting in higher maternal (n-3) PUFA status, during pregnancy is associated with beneficial developmental effects rather than detrimental effects resulting from the higher concomitant exposures of the fetus to MeHg. The association of maternal (n-3) PUFA status with improved child language development may partially explain the authors previous finding of improving language scores, as prenatal MeHg exposure increased in an earlier mother-child cohort in the Seychelles where maternal PUFA status was not measured.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1943 - 1949
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of Nutrition
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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