A study, published by the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology, has quantified the amount of PFASs (perfluorinated alkylate substances) that build up after each month an infant is breastfed. The study represents the first published research quantifying the level of PFA transferance through breast milk over time.
“We knew that small amounts of PFAS can occur in breast milk, but our serial blood analyses now show a buildup in the infants, the longer they are breastfed,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard Chan School.
The study group consisted of 81 children born in the Faroe Islands between 1997-2000. The scientists analyzed 5 types of PFASs at birth, ages 11 months, 18 months and 5 years via blood samples. Mothers were tested at 32 weeks of pregnancy.
PFASs are chemical substances that are exclusively utilized to make products resistant to water, grease, and stains and products include stain-proof textiles, waterproof clothing, some food packaging, paints, and lubricants. The product acts like plastic is not biodegradable and tens to bio-accumulate in food chains causing reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption and immune dysfunction.
In children who were breastfed the levels of PFAS increased by 20-30% each month. By the end of exclusive breastfeeding, children’s serum concentrations tended to exceed that of their mother.
“There is no reason to discourage breastfeeding, but we are concerned that these pollutants are transferred to the next generation at a very vulnerable age. Unfortunately, the current U.S. legislation does not require any testing of chemical substances like PFASs for their transfer to babies and any related adverse effects,” Grandjean said.
Ulla B. Mogensen, Philippe Grandjean, Flemming Nielsen, Pal Weihe, Esben Budtz-Jørgensen. Breastfeeding as an Exposure Pathway for Perfluorinated Alkylates. Environmental Science & Technology, 2015; 150820160020008 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b02237