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Balancing the benefits of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the risks of methylmercury exposure from fish consumption

Authors

  • Kathryn R Mahaffey,

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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  • Elsie M Sunderland,

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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  • Hing Man Chan,

    Corresponding author
      HM Chan, Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, V2N 4Z9. E-mail: lchan@unbc.ca, Phone: +1-250-960-5237.
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  • Anna L Choi,

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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  • Philippe Grandjean,

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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  • Koenraad Mariën,

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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  • Emily Oken,

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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  • Mineshi Sakamoto,

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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  • Rita Schoeny,

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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  • Pál Weihe,

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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  • Chong-Huai Yan,

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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  • Akira Yasutake

    1. KR Mahaffey (deceased) was formerly with the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, George Washington University School of Public Health, Washington DC, USA. EM Sunderland and AL Choi are with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. HM Chan is with the Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada. P Grandjean is with the Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark. K Mariën is with the Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington DC, USA. E Oken is with the Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. M Sakamoto is with the Department of Epidemiology, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan. R Schoeny is with the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water, Washington DC, USA. P Weihe is with the Faroese Hospital System, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands. C-H Yan is with the Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children's Environmental Health, XinHua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. A Yasutake is with the Biochemistry Section, National Institute for Minamata Disease, Minamata, Fukuoka, Japan.
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HM Chan, Community Health Sciences Program, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, V2N 4Z9. E-mail: lchan@unbc.ca, Phone: +1-250-960-5237.

Abstract

Fish and shellfish are widely available foods that provide important nutrients, particularly n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs), to many populations globally. These nutrients, especially docosahexaenoic acid, confer benefits to brain and visual system development in infants and reduce risks of certain forms of heart disease in adults. However, fish and shellfish can also be a major source of methylmercury (MeHg), a known neurotoxicant that is particularly harmful to fetal brain development. This review documents the latest knowledge on the risks and benefits of seafood consumption for perinatal development of infants. It is possible to choose fish species that are both high in n-3 PUFAs and low in MeHg. A framework for providing dietary advice for women of childbearing age on how to maximize the dietary intake of n-3 PUFAs while minimizing MeHg exposures is suggested.

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