Disease burden of methylmercury in the German birth cohort 2014.
This study aimed to estimate the disease burden of methylmercury for children born in Germany in the year 2014. Humans are mainly exposed to methylmercury when they eat fish or seafood. Prenatal methylmercury exposure is associated with IQ loss. To quantify this disease burden, we used Monte Carlo simulation to estimate the incidence of mild and severe mental retardation in children born to mothers who consume fish based on empirical data. Subsequently, we calculated the disease burden with the disability-adjusted life years (DALY)-method. DALYs combine mortality and morbidity in one measure and quantify the gap between an ideal situation, where the entire population experiences the standard life expectancy without disease and disability, and the actual situation. Thus, one DALY corresponds to the loss of one year of life in good health. The methylmercury-induced burden of disease for the German birth cohort 2014 was an average of 14,186 DALY (95% CI 12,915-15,440 DALY). A large majority of the DALYs was attributed to morbidity as compared to mortality. Of the total disease burden, 98% were attributed to mild mental retardation, which only leads to morbidity. The remaining disease burden was a result of severe mental retardation with equal proportions of premature death and morbidity.