Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, and Barium Levels in Human Breast Milk and Factors Affecting Their Concentrations in Hamadan, Iran
- 151 Downloads
Breast milk is considered the best source of nutrition for all infants. However, exposure of newborns to toxic metals is of special interest due to their potential harmful effects. Thus, the primary aims of this study were to determine the concentration of toxic heavy metals including lead, mercury, cadmium, and barium in breast milk samples from Hamadan, Iran, in relation to some sociodemographic variables. A total of 100 breast milk samples were collected and their heavy metal contents were measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy (ICP-MS). The median breast milk concentrations of Pb, Hg, and Ba were 41.9, 2.8, and 1.95 μg/L, respectively. Cd levels were < 1 μg/L in all samples. The Pb level in 94% of the samples was higher than the recommended Pb limit of < 5 μg/L in breast milk suggested by World Health Organization (WHO). Hg levels in 54% of the breast milk samples were higher than the normal mean concentration (1.7 μg/L) suggested by WHO. We found no correlation between Hg levels in breast milk and sociodemographic factors. Ba levels in all the breast milk samples were lower than the WHO’s proposed health-based drinking water guideline (0.7 mg/L). Considering the results of the present study and the vulnerability of infants, along with the well-known toxicity of these metals, further studies are warranted to identify the main sources of exposure that contribute their concentration in breast milk, establish harmless intake values of toxic metals in breast milk, and develop preventive measures.
KeywordsToxic metals Lead Mercury Cadmium Barium Breast milk
The authors are grateful to the lactating mothers who volunteered to participate in the study. We thank K. Shashok (AuthorAID in the Eastern Mediterranean) for improving the use of English in the manuscript.
This project was financially supported by the School of Public Health, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences (Grant number: 960115301).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The protocol and ethics of this study were approved by the Ethics Committee of Hamadan University of Medical Science. Breastfeeding mothers provided their informed written consent, agreed to provide samples, and received no payment for their participation.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- 5.Soetan K, Olaiya C, Oyewole O (2010) The importance of mineral elements for humans, domestic animals and plants—a review. Afr J Food Sci 4:200–222Google Scholar
- 10.Yurdakök K (2015) Lead, mercury, and cadmium in breast milk. J Pediatr Neonatal Individ Med (JPNIM) 4:e040223Google Scholar
- 12.Jensen A (1991) Levels and trends of environmental chemicals in human milk. Chemical contaminants in human milk: 45–198Google Scholar
- 13.Maekawa R, Ito R, Iwasaki Y, Saito K, Akutsu K, Takatori S, Ishii R, Kondo F, Arai Y, Ohgane J, Shiota K, Makino T, Sugino N (2017) Evidence of exposure to chemicals and heavy metals during pregnancy in Japanese women. Reprod Med Biol 16:337–348. https://doi.org/10.1002/rmb2.12049 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 17.Ursinyova M, Hladikova V (1997) The intake of selected toxic elements from milk in infants. Fresenius Environ Bull 6:627–632Google Scholar
- 19.WHO (1990) Environmental health criteria 107: barium. Sponsored by United Nations Environment Programme, International Labour Organization and World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
- 20.Oleckno WA (1982) The National Interim Primary Drinking Water Regulations, part I—historical development. J Environ Health 44:236–239Google Scholar
- 24.Mohapatra P, Preet R, Das D, Satapathy SR, Siddharth S, Choudhuri T, Wyatt MD, Kundu CN (2014) The contribution of heavy metals in cigarette smoke condensate to malignant transformation of breast epithelial cells and in vivo initiation of neoplasia through induction of a PI3K-AKT-NFkappaB cascade. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 274:168–179. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.taap.2013.09.028 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 25.García-Esquinas E, Pérez-Gómez B, Fernández MA, Pérez-Meixeira AM, Gil E, de Paz C, Iriso A, Sanz JC, Astray J, Cisneros M (2011) Mercury, lead and cadmium in human milk in relation to diet, lifestyle habits and sociodemographic variables in Madrid (Spain). Chemosphere 85:268–276CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 38.WHO (1996) Trace elements in human nutrition and health. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
- 42.Okati N, Sari A, Ghasempouri S (2013) Evaluation of mercury pollution in breast milk and Iranian infants’ hair. Int Res J Appl Basic Sci 4:2857–2864Google Scholar
- 54.Choudhury H, Cary R (2001) Barium and barium compounds. Concise international chemical assessment document 33. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
- 56.Todd G, Wohlers D, Citra M (2003) Toxicological profile for pyrethrins and pyrethroids. Agency for toxic substances and disease registry, AtlantaGoogle Scholar