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Polybrominated diphenyl ethers in maternal serum, umbilical cord serum, colostrum and mature breast milk: Insights from a pilot study and the literature
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry (MMK).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry (MMK).
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2012 (English)In: Environment International, ISSN 0160-4120, E-ISSN 1873-6750, Vol. 47, 121-130 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 47, 121-130 p.
Keyword [en]
PBDE, Paired samples, Transfer, Human milk, Mother's milk, Distribution
National Category
Other Chemistry Topics Analytical Chemistry
Research subject
Environmental Chemistry
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-82688DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2012.05.006ISI: 000308057000016OAI: diva2:571306
Available from: 2012-12-19 Created: 2012-11-22 Last updated: 2014-05-02Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Persistent halogenated pollutants in mothers´ milk
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Persistent halogenated pollutants in mothers´ milk
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are substances that degrade slowly, are distributed wotldwide, bioaccumulate and are harmful to both animals and humans. The release of POPs to the environment was the preamble to human background contamination. In the mid-20th century it became clear to scientists and policy makers that even the mothers´ milk was contaminated by POPs. This led to national and global monitoring programs to assess the extent of contamination and subsequently to ban several POPs via the Stockholm Convention.

The concentrations of dioxin, polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PCDD), -furans (PCDF) and dioxin like polychlorinated biphenyls (DL-PCB) is analysed in a retrospektive time trend study. The findings show a faster decrease of dioxin concentrations 2002-2011, compared to the whole series, 1972-2011. The transfer of polybrominated diphenyl ethers from mother to child via the milk is investigated and a relationship between both the PBDE molecule’s size and time post partum of the sampling and the ability to transfer to the milk is found. A literature review concerning the POPs in human milk finds, in addition to accounting for POP concentrations; that some substances are investigated more thoroughly than others; DDT and PCB compared to Aldrine and Toxaphene and that certain geographical areas are more well-studied than others, e.g. Europe compared to Africa. The study also shows a strong over all need for better reporting protocols. To understand the current and emerging POPs present in mothers´ milk screening of a larger than normal sample of mothers´ milk can give new insights. The development of a method designed to tackle the problems of large fat rich sample and still to be as benign as possible to the analytes was undertaken. The method is subsequently applied to a both Swedish and Chinese pooled sample to show the differences in POP exposure between countries.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry (MMK), Stockholm University, 2014. 41 p.
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Environmental Chemistry
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-103050 (URN)978-91-7447-921-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-06-05, William-Olssonsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, 10:00 (English)

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2014-05-14 Created: 2014-04-29 Last updated: 2016-10-24Bibliographically approved

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Fång, JohanAthanasiadou, MariaBergman, Åke
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