Minnesota Family Environmental Exposure Tracking (MN FEET)

photo of woman working in laboratory

MN FEET will measure mercury and other chemicals in newborns from at-risk Minnesota communities. Exposure to these chemicals is an important health concern for pregnant women and children. Even small amounts of exposure can harm the developing brain and nervous system and have long-lasting effects on health.

MN FEET follows up on questions raised by the MDH pilot study Mercury in Newborns in the Lake Superior Basin, which measured mercury in newborns in Minnesota’s Lake Superior region. The study found that 10% of babies tested had mercury exposure above a level of health concern. It raises these important questions:

1. Do other populations in the state have elevated mercury exposures?

We do not know whether other Minnesota newborns, beyond those in the Lake Superior Basin, have mercury exposures that may be of health concern. With state funding, MN FEET will measure mercury in newborns from other communities in the state. When possible, we will also measure other chemicals like lead and cadmium.

2. Is analyzing mercury in dried bloodspots a good way to measure newborn mercury exposure?

The method used in the pilot study was new: it analyzed mercury in newborn bloodspots, small amounts of blood collected from an infant’s heel soon after birth. MDH’s Pregnancy and Newborns Exposure Study is checking whether newborn bloodspots are a reliable measure of newborn mercury exposure by comparing mercury levels in bloodspots and umbilical cord blood from the same babies. MN FEET will also investigate this question.

MN FEET results will be posted as they become available. For questions or more information, Contact MN Biomonitoring: Chemicals in People.

Return to MN Biomonitoring: Chemicals in People.

Updated Monday, January 26, 2015 at 03:35PM