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Keywords:

  • breast milk contaminants;
  • PCBs;
  • DDT;
  • DDE;
  • endocrine disruptors;
  • infant growth

Summary

Pan IJ, Daniels JL, Herring AH, Rogan WJ, Siega-Riz AM, Goldman BD, Sjödin A. Lactational exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene and infant growth: an analysis of the Pregnancy, Infection, and Nutrition Babies Study. Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2010; 24: 262–271.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), 2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1,1-trichloroethane (p,p’-DDT) and 2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)-1,1-dichloroethylene (p,p’-DDE), the most stable metabolite of p,p’-DDT, are persistent organic pollutants and environmental endocrine disruptors. Infant exposure to these chemicals through breast feeding may influence children's growth, but this potential adverse effect could be complicated by the coexisting benefits of breast feeding. This study examined the associations between lactational exposure to these chemicals and infant growth in the first 12 months by using data from the Pregnancy, Infection and Nutrition Babies Study in central North Carolina, United States, 2004–06. The study population was restricted to the infants who were breast fed for 6 months or longer. PCBs, p,p’-DDT and p,p’-DDE were measured in breast milk at 3 months postpartum. Lactational exposure up to 12 months of age was estimated as the product of chemical concentrations and the duration of breast feeding. The infant's weight and length were recorded from the medical record for each routine paediatric well-child visit in the first 12 months. Women–child pairs who breast fed for 6 months or longer and returned the growth card (n = 210) were included in the study. Linear mixed effects models were used to assess the associations between chemical concentrations in breast milk and longitudinal infant weight and length measurements in the first 6 months. Multivariable linear regression models were used to assess the relationships between lactational exposure to chemicals until 12 months of age and the z-scores of infant weight, length and weight-for-length at 12 months.

Overall, no association was observed. Breast feeding for 6 months or longer, with lactational exposure to PCBs, p,p’-DDT and p,p’-DDE at the low background level concentrations studied here, resulted in no measurable influence on infant growth in the first 12 months.