Public Health Nutrition

Social, economic, political and environmental determinants

Hydroelectric reservoir inundation (Rio Madeira Basin, Amazon) and changes in traditional lifestyle: impact on growth and neurodevelopment of pre-school children

Rejane C Marquesa1, José G Dóreaa2 c1, Concepta McManusa3, Renata S Leãoa4, Katiane G Brandãoa5, Rayson C Marquesa6, Igor H Ito Vieiraa5, Jean-Remy D Guimarãesa4 and Olaf Malma4

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)


c1 Corresponding author: Email