Changes in Hair Mercury Levels Among Women of Child-Bearing Age Following an Educational Intervention

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Abstract

Objective:

Describe mercury exposures among women of childbearing age before and after an educational intervention.

Methods:

Women age 18 to 45 were recruited to participate in an educational intervention concerning fish consumption. Fish consumption habits and total mercury concentration in hair were assessed pre- and post-intervention. Regression models examined associations between mercury, fish consumption, and demographics.

Results:

Overall, 234 women completed the study. On average, mercury concentrations increased by 0.01 ppm (parts per million) following the intervention, despite declines in fish consumption; however, women in the 90th percentile for mercury at baseline decreased concentrations significantly while maintaining high rates of fish consumption. Mercury concentrations were positively correlated with fish consumption and certain demographic characteristics.

Conclusions:

The intervention reached individuals most at-risk. Healthcare providers should discuss fish consumption habits with women to encourage consumption of low-risk fish, and identify women needing education and counseling.

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