Mercury in the umbilical cord: Implications for risk assessment for Minamata disease

C. Dalgard, P. Grandjean, P.J. Jorgensen, P. Weihe

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Umbilical cord tissue was obtained from 50 births in the Faroe Islands, where high mercury intake is due to ingestion of pilot whale meat. The mercury concentration correlated significantly with the frequency of maternal whale meat dinners during pregnancy and with mercury concentrations in umbilical cord blood and in maternal hair. The results; were compared with published values for mercury in umbilical cord tissue from 12 infants diagnosed with congenital methylmercury poisoning in Minamata, Japan. From the regression coefficients obtained in the Faroese samples, the median umbilical cord mercury concentration of 4.95 nmol/g dry weight in Minamata would correspond to 668 nmol/l cord blood and 114 nmol/g maternal hair. These levels agree well with other evidence of susceptibility of the fetus to increased exposure to methylmercury.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)548-550
Number of pages3
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood analysis
  • Hair
  • Mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Minamata disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Seafood

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