ABSTRACT

Exposure of newborns to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) is a public health concern. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence of POPs in human milk collected from lactating mothers in Lebanon and to investigate the sociodemographic, nutritional, and other lifestyle determinants. Fifty-four breast milk samples were collected as per World Health Organization guidelines. A survey was used to assess the anthropometric and demographic characteristics of participants. Dietary habits were evaluated based on a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire. Organochlorine pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls were measured in milk samples with liquid-liquid extraction and gas chromatography. Among the screened POPs, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE) was the only POP detected in breast milk samples and was found in only 17.9% of the samples, with a mean (SD) of 11.6 (5.0) μg/L and a range of 5.7 to 21.4 μg/L. Prepregnancy body mass index and age were positively associated with DDE contamination in breast milk. Women who consumed cereals at least two times per week had detectable DDE contamination in their breast milk. Consumption of potatoes and beans at least once per week was also associated with DDE contamination. Our study is the first to assess the presence of POPs in breast milk in Lebanon. The benefits of breastfeeding compensate for the low prevalence of DDE in the breast milk. Our findings highlight the high need to implement monitoring policies, good agricultural practices, and education programs for breastfeeding mothers.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • DDE was the only POP detected in breast milk, in 17.9% of samples.

  • Age and prepregnancy body mass index were associated with DDE contamination.

  • Women who consumed cereals at least twice per week had detectable DDE.

  • Consumption of potatoes and beans once per week was associated with DDE contamination.

  • Consumption of dairy products and fresh produce was not linked to DDE contamination.

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