TPS 636: Metals and health 2, Johan Friso Foyer, Floor 1, August 28, 2019, 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Background/Aim: The use of mercury for gold extraction in artisanal and small-scale gold-mining operations in Suriname’s interior is of growing concern. Mercury exposure during pregnancy may negatively influence birth outcomes and paediatric neurodevelopment. The Caribbean Consortium for Research in Environmental and Occupational Health is assessing exposure to metals and non-chemical stressors in over 1000 mother/child dyads. We evaluated the association between mercury exposure and non-chemical stressors in Surinamese pregnant women and their birth outcomes.
Methods: data from 763 pregnant women were analyzed for total hair mercury using cold-vapor atomic absorption spectrometry (cut-off USEPA action level ≥1.1ug/g), standardized questionnaires of the Cohen Perceived Stress Scale (cut off ≥ 20 for high stress) and the Edinburg Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS cut off ≥12 for probable depression) that were completed during early pregnancy and associated with birth outcomes collected from clinical records and parturition books using Pearson chi-squared test. Adverse birth outcomes included preterm birth (PTB, <37 weeks), low birth weight (LBW, <2500g) and low APGAR score (AS<7 at 5 minutes).
Results: 27.3% of the women had elevated total Hg hair levels that exceeded the USEPA action level, 23.8% had adverse birth outcomes, 18.4% PTB, 14.7% LBW and 5.1% had low AS. Women with no or primary education had more adverse birth outcomes compared to women with secondary education and up (39.0 vs. 22.5%; p=0.018). A borderline association was found between perceived stress and adverse birth outcomes (p=0.058; 30.1 vs. 21.3%), there was no association with mercury level or depression.
Conclusions: more than a quarter of pregnant women in Suriname had elevated hair mercury levels. Nearly one out of four women had adverse birth outcomes of which preterm birth and low birth weight were the most common; lower educated women were more vulnerable. Neurodevelopmental assessment of these children is currently being done.