Indexed on: 05 May '16Published on: 03 May '16Published in: Environmental Research
In this study, we investigated how mercury (Hg) concentrations in umbilical cord tissue are correlated with those in biomarkers for prenatal exposure to methylmercury (MeHg). Total Hg (T-Hg) concentrations were measured in 54 mother–child paired samples of maternal blood, umbilical cord tissue, cord blood, and maternal hair segments (1–cm incremental segments from the scalp) collected at parturition. MeHg concentrations were also measured in the cord tissue. Median T-Hg and MeHg concentrations in cord tissue on a dry-weight basis (d.w.) were 62.2 ng/g and 56.7 ng/g, respectively. Proportions of MeHg to T-Hg were approximately 95%. Both T-Hg and MeHg in cord tissue (d.w.) showed better correlations with T-Hg in cord blood than did T-Hg in cord tissue on a wet-weight basis (w.w.). Median T-Hg concentrations in maternal blood, cord blood, and maternal hair (0–1 cm from the scalp) were 3.79 ng/g, 7.26 ng/g, and 1.35 μg/g, respectively. Median T-Hg concentration in cord blood was 1.92 times higher than that in maternal blood. T-Hg in cord tissue (d.w.) showed a strong correlation with that in cord blood (r=0.912, p<0.01). Among the hair segments, T-Hg in cord tissue (d.w.) showed the strongest correlation (r=0.854, p<0.01) with that in maternal hair at 0–1 cm from the scalp, reflecting growth for approximately 1 month before parturition. Based on the present results, T-Hg and MeHg concentrations in cord tissue may be useful biomarkers for prenatal MeHg exposure of the fetus, especially reflecting the maternal MeHg body burden during late gestation. The conversion factors for T-Hg and MeHg concentrations in cord tissue (d.w.) to T-Hg concentrations in maternal hair (0–1 cm from the scalp) were calculated to be 22.37 and 24.09, respectively. This information will be useful for evaluating maternal MeHg exposure levels in retrospective studies using preserved umbilical cord tissue.