Ethnic Kawasaki disease risk associated with blood mercury and cadmium in U.S. children

Deniz Yeter, Michael A. Portman, Michael Aschner, Marcelo Farina, Wen Ching Chan, Kai Sheng Hsieh, Ho Chang Kuo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Kawasaki disease (KD) primarily affects children <5 years of age (75%–80%) and is currently the leading cause of acquired heart disease in developed nations. Even when residing in the West, East Asian children are 10 to 20 times more likely to develop KD. We hypothesized cultural variations influencing pediatric mercury (Hg) exposure from seafood consumption may mediate ethnic KD risk among children in the United States. Hospitalization rates of KD in US children aged 0–4 years (n = 10,880) and blood Hg levels in US children aged 1–5 years (n = 713) were determined using separate US federal datasets. Our cohort primarily presented with blood Hg levels <0.1 micrograms (μg) per kg bodyweight (96.5%) that are considered normal and subtoxic. Increased ethnic KD risk was significantly associated with both increasing levels and detection rates of blood Hg or cadmium (Cd) in a linear dose-responsive manner between ethnic African, Asian, Caucasian, and Hispanic children in the US (p ⩽ 0.05). Increasing low-dose exposure to Hg or Cd may induce KD or contribute to its later development in susceptible children. However, our preliminary results require further replication in other ethnic populations, in addition to more in-depth examination of metal exposure and toxicokinetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2016


  • Allergy
  • Autoimmunity
  • Infantile acrodynia
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Pediatrics
  • Pollution
  • Seafood
  • Toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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