2004 Volume 202 Issue 3 Pages 227-237
Several birth cohort studies have shown adverse effects of perinatal exposures to methylmercury (MeHg) and environmentally persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These chemicals are ingested mainly through fish consumption, but little is known about the hazardous effects in Japanese, whose fish consumption is high. The present study, the Tohoku Study of Child Development, was designed to examine the effects of perinatal exposures to MeHg, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), dioxins, pesticides, and other chemicals in Japanese children. Six hundred eighty-seven pregnant women were participated in this study with their written informed consent. Maternal peripheral blood, cord blood, cord tissue, placenta, and breast milk samples were collected for chemical analysis. Maternal hair was also taken for MeHg analysis. Infants born at full term were assessed by neurobehavioral tests: the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale at three days old, the Kyoto Scale of Psychological Development and the Bayley Scales of Infant Development at 7 and 18 months old, and the Fagan Test of Infant Intelligence at 7 months old. The children will be continuously followed up to ages 6-7 years. Maternal food intake frequency, maternal IQ, socioeconomic status, and home environment were assessed as covariates. The results of this cohort study will allow us to evaluate associations between the neurobehavioral development of children and perinatal exposures to MeHg and environmentally POPs in Japan.