Pesticides found in human breastmilk

Photo credit: Raissa Ruschel Photo credit: Raissa Ruschel

A study has found persistent pesticides in human breastmilk for a high percentage of women.  The researchers examined 40 women in Western Australia during the first year of lactation, and tested for 88 persistent organic pollutants. They found levels of DDE, a breakdown product of DDT, in 87.5 percent of their samples, with an average concentration of 62.8 ± 54.5 ng/g fat.  On a positive note, they did not detect organophosphates, carbamates or pyrethroids, and babies did not experience negative growth outcomes such as lowered weight, length, head circumference and percentage fat mass.  However, noting that several other studies have shown negative associations with pesticide concentrations in maternal milk, the authors recommended that consumers should avoid exposure to pesticides when possible.