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Mercury contamination in reproductive age women in a Caribbean island: Vieques
  1. Carmen Ortiz-Roque,
  2. Yadiris López-Rivera
  1. GINECO, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr C Ortiz-Roque
 PO Box 9023930, San Juan, Puerto Rico 009023930;

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Teratogenic amounts of mercury can avidly cross human placental barrier causing permanent neurological impairment to the developing fetus. A warning, from the USA Food and Drug Administration, advising reproductive age women to limit fish consumption, highlights the importance of this contaminating route.1 Internal mercury exposure in fish consuming communities in the Caribbean Basin has not been evaluated. Our study assessed mercury internal exposure for reproductive age women in a heavily industrialised area of north eastern Puerto Rico (NEPR) and its island municipality of Vieques, spared from industrial activities.


Women of ages 16–49, attending their primary physician, were invited to participate. The study was free to all participants. The general population of Vieques was informed of the study dates. Bonafide residence in towns from San Juan to Ceiba, for the NEPR cohort, or Vieques, during the year preceding the hair sample was confirmed. Women with chemically treated hair during the three months preceding the study were excluded. Demographic, medical, nutritional, occupational, religious, residential, and cosmetic information was individually obtained. Completion of the study’s questionnaire and consent forms were prerequisites for hair sampling.

The study was …

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  • Funding: GINECO, a non-profit organisation dedicated to reproductive research and health education in the Caribbean.

  • This study was completed with the collaboration of members of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Puerto Rico, GINECO and the first author.

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