2016 Volume 41 Issue 6 Pages 757-763
About forty certified patients aged around 50 years old existed as living witnesses to fetal-type Minamata disease (methylmercury poisoning due to in utero exposure) in Minamata, Japan in 2006. Computerized hand tremor and postural sway tests with spectral analysis were conducted for 24 of them and in matched control subjects to examine the pathophysiological feature of neuromotor function. The tremor intensities of the patients with fetal-type Minamata disease were significantly larger than those of the 67 controls at every frequency band for both hands. In the patients, proportions for intensity at 1-6 Hz of both hands were larger, but those of the intensity at 6-10 Hz were smaller compared with the controls. The center frequency of a tremor was significantly lower in the patients than in the controls. Only eight males of the 24 patients were examined to evaluate postural sway because of extremely low scores in activities of daily living in the remaining. Most of the postural sway parameters obtained with eyes open and closed were significantly larger in the patients than in the male controls. Likewise, Romberg quotients of postural sway in anterior-posterior direction were significantly higher in the patients. In conclusion, the patients with fetal-type Minamata disease of our study showed a larger tremor of low frequency at less than 6 Hz and postural instability. Spectral analyses of computerized hand tremor and postural sway are suggested to be useful for assessing the pathophysiological change, related to a lesion of the cerebellum, resulting from prenatal methylmercury exposure.