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Prenatal Mercury Exposure, ASD Behaviors Not Linked

Cohort study from Republic of Seychelles, with high fish consumption, shows no consistent link

Prenatal Mercury Exposure, ASD Behaviors Not Linked

THURSDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- Prenatal exposure to methlymercury is not associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) phenotypic behaviors, according to a study published online July 18 in Epidemiology.

Edwin van Wijngaarden, Ph.D., from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, and colleagues examined the correlation between prenatal methylmercury consumption and ASD phenotype in a cohort of children and young adults in the Republic of Seychelles where fish consumption is high. The Social Communication Questionnaire was administered to parents of 1,784 children, adolescents, and young adults and the Social Responsiveness Scale was administered to teachers of 537 of the cohort subjects at age 10. Maternal hair samples collected around the time of birth were used to assess prenatal exposure to methylmercury.

Using linear and nonlinear regression analyses, the researchers found no consistent correlation between prenatal exposure to methylmercury and ASD screening instruments.

"In conclusion, we found no association between prenatal methylmercury exposure and phenotypic ASD behaviors," the authors write. "Our findings contribute to the growing literature suggesting that exposure to organic forms of mercury does not play an important role in the development of ASD phenotypic behavior."

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