While breast milk is the recommended food for infants up to at least six months, exogenously derived compounds such as trace elements have been widely reported in human milk which may make it become toxic or a source of pollutants to the infants. Numerous short-and long-term health effects have been associated with high body—burdens of trace elements, which are amplified in infants. The current study determined the levels and possible contributing factors of six trace elements in breast milk of nursing mothers from a local hospital in Pretoria. Extraction of trace elements employed a digestion technique using perchloric and nitric acid in a ratio of 1:3, while Inductively Coupled Plasma–Membrane Spectrophotometry was used to identify and quantify their levels in breast milk. Concentrations of Cr and Mn were the highest in breast milk, with values ranging from 0.30 to 5.72 µg/L and 0.23 to 5.13 µg/L, respectively. Levels of Co, As, Pb and Cd ranged from <LOD to 0.2 µg/L, <LOD to 2.29 µg/L, 0.05 to 1.06 µg/L, and 0.004 to 0.005 µg/L, respectively. Levels of Cr, Mn and As were higher than the recommended limits from WHO (World Health Organization) in some milk samples. Dietary assessments showed minimal risk for the infants through breastfeeding at this stage; however, prolonged exposure to other sources of these toxic trace elements may pose a serious health risk for the infants. The nature of employment, infant birth weight, passive smoking and maternal diet were the significant factors noted to contribute to trace metal levels in breast milk.
|Journal||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|Publication status||Published - Sept 2021|
- Breast milk and passive smoking