Human serum and mother's milk are frequently used to assess exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), including transplacental transfer to the foetus. However, little is known about the kinetics of PBDEs, especially the highly brominated BDE congeners.
In this pilot study, maternal serum samples were collected from 10 women at delivery and five to six weeks post partum. Umbilical serum was also obtained. Milk was donated two to five days, and five to six weeks after delivery. The amount of PBDEs in these samples was determined using liquid–liquid extraction and GC/MS.
Low, moderately and highly brominated diphenyl ethers were present in umbilical cord serum, indicating placental transfer. The lipid-adjusted levels of BDE-47, BDE-207 and BDE-209 were similar in maternal and umbilical cord serum, whereas the cord serum levels for the penta- to octa-BDEs quantified were lower than in maternal serum.
Marked changes were seen in the congener pattern in breast milk during the first month of lactation, whereas maternal serum levels did not change significantly. The general pattern was an enrichment of low to moderately brominated congeners (i.e. from BDE-17 to BDE-154, with the exception of BDE-28) in colostrum compared with maternal serum. In contrast, more highly brominated congeners were found at similar, or lower levels in colostrum than in maternal serum. After the transition from colostrum to mature milk, the levels of BDE-153 and BDE-209 were substantially reduced, and BDE‐209 was below the limit of detection in 6 out of 9 samples.
A literature review on the design and reporting of studies on the transfer of PBDEs from mother to infant revealed a lack of transparency in many cases. The use of the recently published STROBE-ME guidelines is therefore recommended.
2012. Vol. 47, 121-130 p.