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Abstract Title: Prenatal mercury exposures and dietary interventions: A European Human Biomonitoring Initiative (HBM4EU) study
Presenter Name: Andromachi Katsonouri
Company/Institution: State General Laboratory, Ministry of Health, Cyprus
Session: Human Exposure and Risk Assessment of Hg
Co-Authors: Andromachi Katsonouri

Abstract Information :

Pregnant women are vulnerable with regards to exposure to mercury, a potent developmental neurotoxicant. In Europe, the primary source of exposure to mercury relates to fish consumption. At the same time, fish consumption during pregnancy provides essential nutrients for optimal foetal brain and eye development. The benefits can outweigh the risks if suitable dietary advice is provided during pregnancy. Yet, many European countries do not have official guidelines for the consumption of fish during pregnancy and even where such guidelines exist, they are not effectively communicated to pregnant women in an appropriate way. To address this gap, a dietary intervention study ? HBM4EU-MOM ? is implemented in five European countries with high fish consumption (Cyprus, Greece, Iceland, Portugal, Spain). ~650 (~130 per country) healthy women in early pregnancy were recruited through their health-care providers and provided a scalp hair sample for mercury biomonitoring and personal information about fish consumption, socioeconomic status and other relevant factors. Within each national cohort, half of the participants then received advice about the benefits of suitable fish consumption, risks from mercury, fish species to prefer and species to avoid during pregnancy. At ò12 weeks after provision of the advice, samplings were repeated to assess the impact of the intervention and the associations between fish consumption patterns and mercury exposures. Preliminary results confirm that many pregnant women in coastal Europe consume fish without being aware of specific guidelines and that there is wide geographic variability of fish consumption (frequency, species consumed) and mercury exposure. Notably, several pregnant women exceeded the current health-based guidance values. The impact of the dietary advice on mercury exposure during pregnancy, is now under evaluation. HBM4EU-MOM results will feed into European policies for public health protection. HBM4EU is co-funded from the European Union?s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 733032.

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