Prenatal exposure to dental amalgam in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study: Associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes at 9 and 30 months

Gene E Watson, Katie Evans, Sally W Thurston, Edwin van Wijngaarden, Julie M W Wallace, Emeir M McSorley, Maxine P. Bonham, Maria S. Mulhern, Alison J McAfee, Philip W Davidson, Conrad F Shamlaye, James J Strain, Tanzy M T Love, Grazyna Zareba, Gary J Myers

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Abstract

Background: Dental amalgam is approximately 50% metallic mercury and releases mercury vapor into the oral cavity, where it is inhaled and absorbed. Maternal amalgams expose the developing fetus to mercury vapor. Mercury vapor can be toxic, but uncertainty remains whether prenatal amalgam exposure is associated with neurodevelopmental consequences in offspring. Objective: To determine if prenatal mercury vapor exposure from maternal dental amalgam is associated with adverse effects to cognition and development in children. Methods: We prospectively determined dental amalgam status in a cohort of 300 pregnant women recruited in 2001 in the Republic of Seychelles to study the risks and benefits of fish consumption. The primary exposure measure was maternal amalgam surfaces present during gestation. Maternal occlusal points were a secondary measure. Outcomes were the child's mental (MDI) and psychomotor (PDI) developmental indices of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II (BSID-II) administered at 9 and 30 months. Complete exposure, outcome, and covariate data were available on a subset of 242 mother-child pairs. Results: The number of amalgam surfaces was not significantly (p> 0.05) associated with either PDI or MDI scores. Similarly, secondary analysis with occlusal points showed no effect on the PDI or MDI scores for boys and girls combined. However, secondary analysis of the 9-month MDI was suggestive of an adverse association present only in girls. Conclusion: We found no evidence of an association between our primary exposure metric, amalgam surfaces, and neurodevelopmental endpoints. Secondary analyses using occlusal points supported these findings, but suggested the possibility of an adverse association with the MDI for girls at 9 months. Given the continued widespread use of dental amalgam, we believe additional prospective studies to clarify this issue are a priority.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1511-1517
Number of pages7
JournalNeuroToxicology
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Amalgam
  • Co-exposure
  • Mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Prenatal

Cite this

Watson, G. E., Evans, K., Thurston, S. W., van Wijngaarden, E., Wallace, J. M. W., McSorley, E. M., Bonham, M. P., Mulhern, M. S., McAfee, A. J., Davidson, P. W., Shamlaye, C. F., Strain, J. J., Love, T. M. T., Zareba, G., & Myers, G. J. (2012). Prenatal exposure to dental amalgam in the Seychelles Child Development Nutrition Study: Associations with neurodevelopmental outcomes at 9 and 30 months. NeuroToxicology, 33(6), 1511-1517. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuro.2012.10.001