Journal Article

Influence of Maternal Bone Lead Burden and Calcium Intake on Levels of Lead in Breast Milk over the Course of Lactation

Adrienne S. Ettinger, Martha María Téllez-Rojo, Chitra Amarasiriwardena, Karen E. Peterson, Joel Schwartz, Antonio Aro, Howard Hu and Mauricio Hernández-Avila

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 163, issue 1, pages 48-56
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online November 2005 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Influence of Maternal Bone Lead Burden and Calcium Intake on Levels of Lead in Breast Milk over the Course of Lactation

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The authors studied 367 women who were breastfeeding their infants in Mexico City, Mexico, between 1994 and 1995 to evaluate the effect of cumulative lead exposure, breastfeeding practices, and calcium intake on breast milk lead levels over the course of lactation. Maternal blood and breast milk lead levels were measured at 1, 4, and 7 months postpartum. Bone lead measurements were obtained at 1 month postpartum. At 1, 4, and 7 months postpartum, respectively, the mean breast milk lead levels were 1.4 (standard deviation (SD), 1.1), 1.2 (SD, 1.0), and 0.9 (SD, 0.8) μg/liter and showed a significant decreasing trend over the course of lactation (p < 0.00001). The relations of bone lead and blood lead to breast milk lead were modified by breastfeeding practice, with the highest breast milk lead levels among women with a high level of patella lead who were exclusively breastfeeding. Dietary calcium supplementation increased the rate of decline in breast milk lead by 5–10%, in comparison with a placebo, over the course of lactation, suggesting that calcium supplementation may constitute an important intervention strategy, albeit with a modest effect, for reducing lead in breast milk and thus the potential for exposure by infants.

Keywords: bone and bones; breast feeding; calcium; lactation; lead; longitudinal studies; milk, human; K-XRF, K x-ray fluorescence; SD, standard deviation

Journal Article.  5451 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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