Breastmilk and Toxins

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We have always known that there is an association between the food that moms eat and what comes through the breast milk.  It’s for that same reason that it is always a good idea to check with your doctor before taking any medications while breast feeding to be sure that they are safe for a feeding baby. This study points out the danger of eating fish. We’ve known that fish consumption is just not a good idea when pregnant. This study adds the finding of added toxins in breast milk for those eating fish. I would add that any woman or girl wishing to someday have children, should not eat fish or eat very little and smaller species that are less toxic. The body burden of toxins a girl or young woman accumulates, will some day be shunted to that woman’s unborn child and also shared via breast milk.  

Here is the abstract for you to read. A link to the entire article is provided at the end of this blog.

Metals and trace element concentrations in breast milk of first time healthy mothers: a biological monitoring study
Karin Ljung Björklund, Marie Vahter, Brita Palm, Margaretha Grandér, Sanna Lignell and Marika Berglund

Environmental Health 2012, 11:92 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-11-92
Published: 14 December 2012

Abstract (provisional)


Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for the newborn infant. However, since all infants cannot be breast-fed, there is a need for background data for setting adequate daily intakes. Previously, concentration data on major essential elements and some toxic elements in breast milk, based on different analytical techniques, have been published. There is no recent study on a large number of metals and trace elements in breast milk, using a sensitive analytical method for determination of low element concentrations.


Breast milk concentrations of 32 metals and elements in early lactation (days 14–21) were determined in a random sample of first time Swedish mothers (n = 60) using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS).


There were small inter-individual concentration variations in the macroelements Ca, K, Mg, P and S, and striking similarities across studies and over time, supporting a tight regulation of these elements in breast milk. Large inter-individual and over time differences were detected for Na concentrations, which may reflect an increase in salt consumption in Swedish women. Large inter-individual differences were also detected for the microelements Co, Cr, Mn and Mo, and the toxic metals As, Cd, Pb, Sb and V. Arsenic and B were positively correlated with fish consumption, indicating influence of maternal intake on breast milk concentrations. Observed differences in breast milk element concentrations across studies and over time could be attributed to the timing of sampling and a general decline over time of lactation (Cu, Fe, Mo, Zn), a possible lack of regulation of certain elements in breast milk (As, B, Co, Mn, Se) and time trends in environmental exposure (Pb), or in some cases to differences in analytical performance (Cr, Fe).


This study provides reliable updated information on a number of metals and elements in breast milk, of which some have not previously been reported.

The complete article is available as a provisional PDF.


Dr. Paul

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