Collection and use of exposure data from human milk biomonitoring in the United States

Suzanne E. Fenton, Marian Condon, Adrienne S. Ettinger, Judy S. LaKind, Ann Mason, Melissa McDiarmid, Zhengmin Qian, Sherry G. Selevan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Human milk is a unique biological matrix that can be used to estimate exposures in both the mother and the breastfed infant. In addition, the presence of environmental chemicals in human milk may act as a sentinel for exposures to a broader population. Several factors play a role in determining the quantity of chemicals transferred to milk and, subsequently, to the breastfeeding infant, including maternal, infant, and chemical characteristics. Exposure to certain environmental chemicals during critical periods can disrupt normal infant development, yet few data exist to quantify the hazards posed by environmental chemicals in human milk. Chemicals measured in human milk may also provide, insights to agents suspect in altering breast development and breast-related disease risk. Carefully designed exposure assessment and toxicokinetic studies are needed to elucidate mechanisms and establish relationships between human milk and other biologic matrices. Data from human milk biomonitoring studies can be used to inform and validate models that integrate information about chemical properties, human metabolism, and biomarker concentrations. Additional research is needed to determine the degree to which environmental chemicals enter, are present in, and are excreted from human milk, their impact on the host (mother), and the extent of their bioavailability to breastfeeding infants. This article describes how the collection and use of exposure data from human milk biomonitoring in the United States can be designed to inform future research and policy. Copyright

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1691-1712
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 22 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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