High fish consumption in French Polynesia and prenatal exposure to metals and nutrients.

Publication Type  Journal Article
Year of Publication  2008
Authors  Dewailly, E.; Suhas, E.; Mou, Y.; Chateau-Degat, M. L.; Chansin, R.
Journal Title  Asia Pac J Clin Nutr
Volume  17
Issue  3
Pages  461-70
Journal Date  2008

French Polynesians consume high quantities of fish and are therefore exposed to seafood-related contaminants such as mercury (Hg) or lead (Pb) and nutrients such as iodine, selenium and long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs). As the developing foetus is sensitive to contaminants and nutrients, a cross-sectional study was conducted in French Polynesia in 2005-2006 to assess prenatal exposure to contaminants and nutrients through fish consumption. Two hundred and forty one (241) delivering women originating from all islands of French Polynesia were recruited and agreed to answer questions on fish consumption and gave permission to collect umbilical cord blood for metals and nutrients analyses. All parameters were found in high concentrations in cord blood samples except for lead. Mercury concentrations averaged 64.6 nmol/L (or 13 µg/L) with values ranging from 0.25 to 240 nmol/L. Of the sample, 82.5% had Hg concentrations above the US-EPA blood guide-line of 5.8 µg/L. Tuna was the fish species which contributed the most to Hg exposure. High selenium and LC-PUFAs may counterbalance the potential risk of prenatal exposure to Hg in French Polynesia. Due to the high fish consumption of mothers, Polynesian newborns are prenatally exposed to high doses of mercury. Although selenium and omega-3 fatty acids may counteract mercury toxicity, informing pregnant women on both the mercury and nutrient content of local fish species is important.

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