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Chemosphere. 2011 Aug;84(7):928-35. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2011.06.009. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

Comparison of the concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins in mothers affected by the Yusho incident and their children.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics, Fukuoka Children's Hospital, Tojinmachi 2-5-1, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka 810-0063, Japan.


Accumulated maternal dioxins are passed onto the fetus and neonate via the placenta and maternal milk. In Japan in 1968, an accidental human exposure to rice oil contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other dioxin-related compounds, such as polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), led to development of Yusho oil disease. We investigated differences in blood dioxin concentrations in mother-children pairs affected by the Yusho incident. From 2002 to 2008, blood samples were collected from 26 pairs of Yusho mothers and their children (19 mothers, 26 children). Specific congeners of seven polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), ten PCDFs, and four non-ortho PCBs were analyzed. The children had significantly lower TEQ concentrations of PCDDs, PCDFs, and coplanar PCBs compared to their mothers. The mother-child difference in blood concentrations varied with the congeners; the largest for 2,3,4,7,8-pentaCDF and the smallest for 1,2,3,4,6,7,8-heptaCDD. The level for 2,3,4,7,8-pentaCDF, which characterizes Yusho oil disease, was approximately 17-30 times higher in the mothers than in the general population, whereas there were no significant differences between children in the formula-fed group and the general population. In contrast, the mean level for 2,3,4,7,8-pentaCDF in the breast-fed group was approximately 1.5 times, (range 0.5-6.5 times) higher than that in the general population. Over 30 years after the Yusho incident, the mean blood dioxin levels in the offspring were only a fraction of the levels in their mothers. This is more consistent with exposure via breast milk than via transplacental transfer in the Yusho incident.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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