Determination of cadmium and lead in human milk

Research Note


The objectives of this study were to determine cadmium and lead concentrations in the breast milk of healthy lactating women who were living in Zarrinshahr, an industrial area of Iran and to investigate the effect of mother’s age, parity and smoking habits in families living in the vicinity of areas contaminated with heavy metals. Cadmium and lead concentrations were determined by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry in 44 milk samples from healthy lactating women collected on first to sixth postpartum week. Accuracy of the analysis was checked by various methods including the use of reference material. The mean ± standard deviation of cadmium and lead concentrations in human milk were 2.44 ± 1.47 μg/L (range 0.62–6.32 μg/L) and 10.39 ± 4.72 μg/L (range 3.18–24.67 μg/L), respectively. There was a positive correlation between the concentrations of lead in milk samples and mother’s age and parity (P < 0.05). Also the concentration of cadmium in breast milk significantly increased (P < 0.05) in mothers who were actively and/or passively exposed to smoking. The results of this study showed that lead and cadmium concentrations in milk samples from lactating women in Zarrinshahr were high. This can be a major public health hazard for the inhabitants living in this industrial region of Iran.


Breast milk Heavy metals Industrial area Pollution Toxic trace elements 


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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineIslamic Azad University of Shahr-e KordShahr-e KordIran
  2. 2.Department of Nutrition, Faculty of HealthIslamic Azad University of Shahr-e KordShahr-e KordIran
  3. 3.Hospital of Shohadae LenjanUniversity of Isfahan Medical ScienceIsfahanIran

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