The objective of the study is to establish baseline levels of specific heavy metal and organochlorine contaminants in the blood of women and their newborns, from communities in the Inuvik Region. The study examines traditional food consumption as a possible contaminant exposure pathway, while measuring organochlorines and metals in maternal and cord blood, as well as mercury levels in maternal hair. Collection of data from this region will complete the Northwest Territories/Nunavut database on maternal and cord blood. There were 104 women participating in this study from Inuvialuit, Gwich'in and non-native backgrounds. The results are similar to existing data from other regions in the Canadian north and confirm the importance of traditional foods among women of reproductive age. Exposure levels to contaminants were generally within guideline levels with only a few exceptions. Communication of results to the communities will continue until June 2000. Objectives: 1.To obtain regional values for the concentrations of organochlorine and metal contaminants in maternal and umbilical cord blood samples, and the concentration of mercury in hair samples from pregnant women in the Inuvik region. 2.To assess exposure to these contaminants through the frequency of traditional/country food intake and certain other lifestyle factors. 3.To describe any relationship between contaminant levels in blood and hair samples and frequency of consumption of traditional/country foods and selected lifestyle factors.
Maternal and cord blood was sampled, as well as a clipping of maternal hair
Levels of organochlorines and heavy metals were measured in maternal blood and the cord blood from their babies. Maternal blood samples were collected with routine sampling during admission. If collection was missed at this time, a second opportunity existed to collect maternal blood before the mother was released. The umbilical cord samples were collected during delivery. The samples were forwarded to the hospital lab for processing, then shipped to the Centre du Toxicologie de L'University de Laval at Laval University Hospital Centre for analysis. Results were returned directly to the Project Coordinator for management and subsequent communication during the 1999/2000 fiscal year. In addition to blood sampling, hair samples were collected two weeks after delivery and analysed for mercury levels. The analysis gives a picture of the level of mercury exposure for most, if not all of the pregnancy term (depending on the sample length). These samples were collected at the community health centre from which the volunteer resides. Samples were then shipped to the Project Coordinator, for preparation for shipment to Health Canada, Medical Services Branch, Indian and Northern Health Laboratory for analysis.
This project is conducted by the Inuvik Regioanl Health & Social Services Board. Also involved, is the Aurora Research Institute, Inuvik, NT. The Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and Environment, Canadian Circumpolar Institute, University of Alberta and Health Canada.
Northern Contaminants Program, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Canada.