Umbilical cord blood from 1 023 consecutive births in the Faroe Islands showed a median blood-mercury concentration of 121 nmol/l (24.2 μg/l); 250 of those samples (25.1%) had blood-mercury concentrations that exceeded 200 nmol/l (40 μg/l). Maternal hair mercury concentrations showed a median of 22.5 nmol/g (4.5 μg/g), and 130 samples (12.7%) contained concentrations that exceeded 50 nmol/g (10 μg/g). Frequent ingestion of whale meat dinners during pregnancy and, to a much lesser degree, frequent consumption of fish, and increased parity or age were associated with high mercury concentrations in cord blood and hair. Blood-mercury levels were slightly lower if the mother had occasionally ingested alcoholic beverages. Mercury in blood correlated moderately with blood selenium (median, 1.40 μmol/l). Increased selenium concentrations were associated with intake of whale meat, alcohol abstention, delivery after term, and high parity. Lead in cord blood was low (median, 82 nmol/l), particularly if the mothers had frequently had fish for dinner and had abstained from smoking.
- seafood diet
- Faroe Islands