Human milk research for answering questions about human health

Richard Y. Wang, Michael N. Bates, Daniel A. Goldstein, Suzanne G. Haynes, Karen D. Hench, Ruth A. Lawrence, Ian Paul, Zhengmin Qian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Concerns regarding human milk in our society are diverse, ranging from the presence of environmental chemicals to the health of breastfed infants and the economic value of breastfeeding to society. The panel convened for the Technical Workshop on Human Milk Surveillance and Biomonitoring for Environmental Chemicals in the United States, held at the Hershey Medical Center, Pennsylvania State College of Medicine, on 24-26 September 2004, considered how human milk research may contribute to environmental health initiatives to benefit society. The panel concluded that infant, maternal, and community health can benefit from studies using human milk biomonitoring. Unlike other biological specimens, human milk provides information regarding exposure of the mother and breastfed infant to environmental chemicals. Some of the health topics relevant to this field of research include disorders of growth and development in infants, cancer origins in women, and characterization of the trend of exposure to environmental chemicals in the community. The research focus will determine the design of the study and the need for the collection of alternative biological specimens and the long-term storage of these specimens. In order to strengthen the ability to interpret study results, it is important to identify reference ranges for the chemicals measured and to control for populations with high environmental chemical exposure, because the amount of data on environmental chemical levels in human milk that is available for comparison is extremely limited. In addition, it will be necessary to validate models used to assess infant exposure from breastfeeding because of the variable nature of current models. Information on differences between individual and population risk estimates for toxicity needs to be effectively communicated to the participant. Human milk research designed to answer questions regarding health will require additional resources to meet these objectives. Copyright

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1771-1801
Number of pages31
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


Dive into the research topics of 'Human milk research for answering questions about human health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this