Breastfeeding may expose infants to toxic chemicals

For immediate release: August 20, 2015

Boston, MA ─ A widely used class of industrial chemicals linked with cancer and interference with immune function—perfluorinated alkylate substances, or PFASs—appears to build up in infants by 20%–30% for each month they’re breastfed, according to a new study co-authored by experts from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It is the first study to show the extent to which PFASs are transferred to babies through breast milk, and to quantify their levels over time.

“We knew that small amounts of PFAS can occur in breast milk, but our serial blood analyses now show a buildup in the infants, the longer they are breastfed,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard Chan School.

The study appeared online August 20, 2015 in Environmental Science & Technology. Other study authors were from Danish universities and the Faroese Hospital System.

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