Methylmercury vs omega-3 intakes due to fish consumption and IQ in children

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This study is a benefit-risk assessment for the exposures of methylmercury (MeHg) and docosahexanoeic acid (DHA) due to maternal fish consumption.


The aim of the study is

1) to compare the net health health effects of MeHg and DHA exposures on children's intelligent quotient (IQ) due to maternal fish consumption

2) to find out what are the outcomes of the fish consumption recommendations for the pregnant women

Methods & data

We created a benefit-risk model with monte-carlo simulation. Four different fish consumption scenarious were used:

1) Pregnant women high fish consumption

2) Pregnant women median fish consumption

3) Pregnant women low fish consumption

4) Genefal population fish consumption

We used a single-compartment model to describe the relationship between the maternal MeHg intake and maternal hair Hg concentration. Two different exposure-resonse functions (axelrad 2007, Cohen 2005a) were used to yield an estimate for the MeHg health risk, and one exposure-response (Cohen 2005b) to estimate the health benefit of the DHA.

The fish consumption data included data of the pregnant mother fish consumption (N=3837) and fish consumption of the general population.


The net health effect is very close to zero, The small risk due to the MeHg is diminished by the positive health effect of the DHA exposure. The fish consumption recommedations seem to functioning properly and the amounts of fish consumption typically high in MeHg (pike, perch, pike-perch) are notably lower with the pregnant women.