Environmental chemicals in breast milk

Cecilia Sara Alcala, Carlo Basilio, Imani Whitea, Satori A. Marchittia, Erin P. Hines, Cheston M. Berlin, Suzanne E. Fenton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Research on the relationship between levels of environmental chemicals in breast milk and the health outcomes in infants and children have continued to increase considerably since the 1950s. Over the years, the number of countries that have available data of chemicals measured in breast milk have increased, significantly. However, the available literature fails to provide confident evidence of consistent adverse health outcomes to infants exposed to environmental chemicals in breast milk. Studies examining numerous health end points have consistently concluded that breast-feeding is recommended despite the presence of environmental chemicals in breast milk. According to the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding is widely considered to be healthiest option for the infant, reduces child mortality, and confers health benefits that extend into adulthood. This paper provides an overview of three essential topics related to environmental chemicals in breast milk: (1) identification and concentrations of chemicals in breast milk over time and place; (2) factors associated with observed levels of chemicals in breast milk, and (3) the association between environmental chemicals in breast milk and infant health. Further research is needed to characterize the potential health outcomes from infant dietary exposures to environmental chemicals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Environmental Health
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780444639523
ISBN (Print)9780444639516
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science


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