Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Dr. John Bend

Second Advisor

Dr. Gideon Koren


Methylmercury, whose primary source of exposure is via maternal fish consumption, can adversely affect human fetal neurodevelopment. The objectives of this diesis were threefold: 1) To systematically review the evidence of neurodevelopmental risks to the fetus from maternal fish consumption, to define a Lowest Observable Adverse Effect Level (LOAEL); 2) To measure mercury in hair of several groups including women of reproductive age, to define the proportion reaching this LOAEL; and 3) To investigate their perception of risk. We defined our LOAEL at 0.3pg/g maternal hair mercury. The Japanese population were the heaviest fish consumers, reflected by their high hair mercury content (1.7 pg/g) compared to Motherisk callers (0.41 pg/g), WIFN volunteers (0.23 pg/g) and Canadian women (0.15 pg/g). The negative perceptions of Motherisk callers were justified because 64% were above our LOAEL. Analysis of hair mercury content prior to pregnancy could be employed to protect the fetus



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