Duration of Breast-Feeding and PBBs. (Correspondence)

By Rogan, Walter J.; Weil, William B. | Environmental Health Perspectives, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Duration of Breast-Feeding and PBBs. (Correspondence)


Rogan, Walter J., Weil, William B., Environmental Health Perspectives


Thomas et al. (1) report that polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) exposure has no effect on duration of lactation. Their data come from interviews in 1997 or later with women who were exposed to PBBs in the mid-1970s and who had a child since then. In a study contemporary with the exposure, however, Weil (2) found that unexposed women breast-fed about twice as long as exposed women (30 weeks vs. 15 weeks). This might have been because of the warnings about breast-feeding with PBB-contaminated milk (3), which we recall as being more ominous than reported by Thomas (1), or because of some biological effect of PBB. In any event, the presence of the finding then and its absence now causes us to speculate that there may be poor recall or other reasons why duration of lactation does not work well as a recalled outcome. Consistent with that speculation, cigarette smoking by the mother (4) and infant's gestional age < 37 weeks (5), for example, are usually associated with early weaning, but the hazard ratios for these characteristics in the report by Thomas et al. (1) are small and nonsignificant. It is disappointing to think that PBB did interfere with lactation but that the effect cannot be detected in data about lacation recalled years later. …

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