Epidemiological Evidence on Methylmercury Neurotoxicity

  • Jordi Julvez
  • Takashi Yorifuji
  • Anna L. Choi
  • Philippe Grandjean
Part of the Current Topics in Neurotoxicity book series (Current Topics Neurotoxicity, volume 2)


Methylmercury neurotoxicity has been gradually recorded over several decades. Designs of recent epidemiologic studies have improved to focus their assessments in developmental neurotoxicity. The developing brain, due to rapid physiologic changes and a protective system under development, is particularly vulnerable to the exposure to environmental insults. This chapter aims to systematically review and discuss the state-of-the-art epidemiological studies published up to the present days. We also describe and discuss some of the methodological problems. For example, the uncertainties (confounding) derived from a situation in which an association between an exposure and an outcome is distorted because it is mixed with the effect of a confounding variable. A majority of the studies have demonstrated that methylmercury exposure is neurotoxic to adults and children, but stronger adverse effects would result if negative confounding derived from the nutritional factors of seafood is taken into consideration in the data analyses. The EU and US decision to take preventive measures occurred at a substantial delay following the discovery of these neurotoxic effects.


Hair Sample Fish Intake Faroe Island Hair Mercury Minamata Disease 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was funded by the NIH, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (ES09797 and 013692). The contents of this chapter are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIEHS, NIH, or any other funding agency.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC  2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jordi Julvez
    • 1
  • Takashi Yorifuji
    • 2
  • Anna L. Choi
    • 1
  • Philippe Grandjean
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental HealthHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyOkayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical SciencesOkayamaJapan

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