July 16, 2009 A new study suggests that lipid-adjusted concentrations of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and furans and organochlorine pesticides in women’s blood serum and milk do not decrease during lactation as previously thought. This new insight should improve researchers’ ability to assess infant exposures to environmental chemicals via breastfeeding.
This new finding also challenges the idea that early milk should be pumped and discarded as a means of reducing infant exposure to persistent organic pollutants, which can accumulate in a mother’s fat stores over her lifetime and be mobilized during lactation.
First author Judy S. LaKind and colleagues found that partitioning of chemicals between serum and human milk was complex and related to chemical class. The authors suggest that the milk/serum ratios determined by this research be used to evaluate infant exposure if only serum data are available. They also recommend that additional studies that include a larger cohort be conducted to confirm these results.
“This is the first study to provide data based on simultaneous sampling of breast milk and blood at separate times during lactation,” wrote the authors.
Support for this research was provided in part by the Research Foundation for Health and Environmental Effects, Arlington, VA.
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- LaKind et al. Do Human Milk Concentrations of Persistent Organic Chemicals Really Decline During Lactation? Chemical Concentrations During Lactation and Milk/Serum Partitioning. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2009; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.0900876
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