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Chemical Concentrations Do Not Decrease During Lactation

A study published 15 June 2009 ahead of print in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) 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.

Other authors of the paper included Cheston M. Berlin, Jr., Andreas Sjödin, Wayman Turner, Richard Y. Wang, Larry L. Needham, Ian M. Paul, Jennifer L. Stokes, Daniel Q. Naiman and Donald G. Patterson, Jr. Support for this research was provided in part by the Research Foundation for Health and Environmental Effects, Arlington, VA.

The article is available free of charge at

EHP is published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. EHP is an Open Access journal. More information is available online at Brogan & Partners Convergence Marketing handles marketing and public relations for the publication and is responsible for creation and distribution of this press release.

Julie Hayworth-Perman | Newswise Science News
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