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Human Breast Milk and Xenoestrogen Exposure: A Possible Impact on Human Health

Abstract

Human milk is the best natural and optimal food for neonates with several immunologic, developmental and practical advantages throughout childhood. Although the World Health Organization strongly supports breastfeeding, it recognizes the potential health risks posed by the presence of environmental toxicants in breast milk. Contamination of human milk is widespread and due to decades of inadequately controlled pollution by toxicants, persistent pesticides or chemical solvents. These chemicals tend to degrade slowly in the environment, to bioaccumulate in the food chain and to have long half-lives in humans. Many of these environmental pollutants have estrogen-like activities and, thus they are called environmental estrogen disruptors or xenoestrogens. Certain adverse health and reproductive outcomes are attributed to these chemicals in laboratory animals and in wildlife as well as in humans. Here, we review available data from breast milk monitoring studies suggesting the environmental chemicals that may affect child health through breastfeeding.

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Massart, F., Harrell, J., Federico, G. et al. Human Breast Milk and Xenoestrogen Exposure: A Possible Impact on Human Health. J Perinatol 25, 282–288 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.jp.7211251

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