Infant Exposure to Dioxin-Like Compounds in Breast Milk. (Chemical Contaminants in Breast Milk: Mini-Monograph)

By Lorber, Matthew; Phillips, Linda | Environmental Health Perspectives, June 2002 | Go to article overview

Infant Exposure to Dioxin-Like Compounds in Breast Milk. (Chemical Contaminants in Breast Milk: Mini-Monograph)


Lorber, Matthew, Phillips, Linda, Environmental Health Perspectives


We used a one-compartment, first-order pharmacokinetic model to predict the infant body burden of dioxin-like compounds that results from breast-feeding. Validation testing of the model showed a good match between predictions and measurements of dioxin toxic equivalents (TEQs) in breast-fed infants, and the exercise highlighted the importance of the assumption of the rate of dissipation of TEQs in the infant. We evaluated five nursing scenarios: no nursing (i.e., formula only), and nursing for 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years. We assumed that an infant weighs 3.3 kg at birth and is exposed to a total of 800 pg TEQ/day by consumption of breast milk, leading to an estimated body weight-based dose of 242 pg TEQ/kg-day, which drops to 18 pg TEQ/kg-day after 1 year. This decline is due to declines in dioxin concentration in mother's milk and infant body weight increases. This range is significantly higher, on a body-weight basis, than adult TEQ exposure, which has been estimated to average about 1 Pig TEQ/kg-day. For the nursing scenarios of [greater than or equal to] 6 months, we predict that body burdens (expressed as a body lipid concentration) peak at around 9 weeks at 44 ppt TEQ lipid. We predict that the body burden of the formula-fed infants will remain below 10 ppt TEQ lipid during the first year. These results compare to the current adult average body burden of 25 ppt TEQ lipid. We also found that an infant who had been breast-fed for 1 year had an accumulated dose 6 times higher than a 1-year-old infant who had not been breast-fed. For a 70-year lifetime, individuals who had been breast-fed had an accumulated dose 3-18% higher than individuals who had not been breast-fed. Key words: breast milk, dioxin-like compounds, dioxins, furans, infant exposure, pharmacokinetic modeling. Environ Health Pespect 110:A325-A332 (2002). [Online 13 May 2002] http://ehpnet1.niehs.nih.gov/docs/2002/110pA325-A332lorber/abstract.html

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Several researchers have shown that infant exposure to dioxin-like compounds can be significant by the breast milk pathway (1-4). Ayotte et al. (1) used data on the concentrations of dioxin-like compounds [including dioxin and furan congeners as well as the dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)] in breast milk of Inuit populations in Nunavik (the Arctic region of Quebec, Canada) with a median concentration of 48 pg dioxin toxic equivalents (TEQ)/g lipid, to calculate an infant dose of 226 pg TEQ/kg-day. They applied a pharmacokinetic (PK) model to evaluate the impact of breast-feeding of dioxin TEQs on infant body burdens and on lifetime (up to 75 years) body burdens of TEQs. By studying the accumulation of dioxin-like compounds in humans over time, Patandin et al. (2) showed that 6 months of breast-feeding during the first 25 years of life could contribute 12% of the total dose of these compounds during those 25 years for men and 14% for women. Kreuzer et al. (3) and Lakind et al. (4) combined estimates of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) dose received by the infant via breast-feeding with PK models to demonstrate the initial significant elevation in infant body burdens of TCDD as a result of this exposure. Their models predicted that initially high body burdens declined as a result of infant body weight increases, depuration of residues, and reduced doses due to declines of residues of TCDD in mother's milk.

In this paper, we build on the efforts of other researchers (1-4) to model the impacts of breast-feeding on body burdens of dioxin-like compounds. We express body burdens in terms of picograms of dioxin TEQs per gram body lipid or parts per trillion TEQ lipid; these compounds are known to accumulate in lipid, and TEQ concentrations in mother's milk, blood, and other organs are often expressed on a lipid basis.

In this paper we focus on dioxin-like compounds expressed as a dose or concentration of dioxin TEQs. …

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