Mums-to-be wanted for study on mercury exposure 

INSA (Portugal’s Public health institute Dr Ricardo Jorge) is recruiting pregnant women for a European study that seeks to evaluate exposure to mercury during pregnancy and develop specific recommendations with regard to the consumption of fish during those nine precious months.

There is no secret that fish in the oceans these days carry large quantities of chemicals in their bodies – some more than others.

Almost two years ago, Portugal was said to be ‘evaluating’ Spain’s warning to pregnant women and young children not to eat swordfish, tuna, shark meat, dog fish or perch/ pike because of their high mercury content (click here).

The evaluation was described as ‘in its final stages’ – but then the pandemic came along, and since that time very little has been said.

The HBM4EU-MOM project is part of this drive to try and find out how much eating fish (and inadvertently consuming mercury) is affecting mums-to-be. 

It is focusing on women in Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Iceland and Portugal.

INSA investigator Sónia Namorado has explained that each country needs to field results from 130 candidates, but so far Portugal has only mustered 45.

The project opened earlier this summer, and Ms Namorado puts the lack of uptake down to various reasons, not least people’s reticence to come forwards during a pandemic.

Requirements however are very light: all women have to do is supply a few strands of hair (which can be picked up from their own homes by investigators), and answer questions on their dietary habits, lifestyle and general health over the telephone.

Candidates should be between the ages of 18-44 and up to 20 weeks pregnant.

Anyone interested should contact the team by email to:

As Sónia Namorado told Lusa, “the objective of this initiative is to try and understand the way we are exposed to chemicals and what consequences this exposure could have on our health”.