a1 Escola de Enfermagem Anna Nery, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
a2 Department of Nutrition, Universidade de Brasília, C.P. 04322, 70919-970 Brasilia, DF, Brazil
a3 Department of Animal Science, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, DF, Brazil
a4 Instituto de Biofísica Carlos Chagas Filho, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
a5 Medical School, Universidade Federal de Rondônia, Porto Velho, RO, Brazil
a6 Prefeitura Municipal de Porto Velho, Porto Velho, RO, Brazil
Objective To assess the dependence on fish consumption of families and its impact on nutritional status and neurodevelopment of pre-school children.
Design Cross-sectional study that measured children’s hair mercury (HHg) as an indicator of family fish consumption, growth (anthropometric Z-scores, WHO standards) and neurological (Gesell developmental scores (GDS)) development.
Setting Traditional living conditions among families residing in the area adjacent to the Samuel Dam (Western Amazon) hydroelectric reservoir.
Subjects Two hundred and forty-nine pre-school children (1–59 months of age) from families transitioning from the traditional Amazonian lifestyle.
Results Family fish consumption was significantly correlated with children’s HHg concentration (Spearman’s r = 0·246, P < 0·0001); however, HHg had no significant association with growth (Z-scores). Overall, the prevalence of severe malnutrition, i.e. stunting (height-for-age Z-score (HAZ) ≤ −3), underweight (weight-for-age Z-score (WAZ) ≤ −3) and wasting (weight-for-height Z-score (WHZ) ≤ −3) was 5·2 % (n 13), 0 % and 0·8 % (n 2), respectively. The prevalence of moderate stunting (HAZ ≥ −3 to ≤ −2), underweight (WAZ ≥ −3 to ≤ −2) and wasting (WHZ ≥ −3 to ≤ −2) was 8·8 % (n 22), 2·4 % (n 6) and 4·8 % (n 12), respectively. Although 76 % of the children showed adequate GDS (>85), multiple regression analysis showed that fish consumption (as HHg) had no impact on GDS, but that some variables did interact significantly with specific domains (motor and language development).
Conclusions The study showed that the families’ shift in fish consumption had no negative impact on the growth of young children and that ensuing methylmercury exposure has not been a noticeable neurodevelopmental hindrance.
(Received February 11 2010)
(Accepted July 13 2010)
(Online publication October 13 2010)