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Environ Int. 2007 Feb;33(2):239-45. Epub 2006 Oct 31.

Levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in breast milk from central Taiwan and their relation to infant birth outcome and maternal menstruation effects.

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Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Neipu, Pingtung 912, Taiwan.


In utero exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) reduces the number of ovarian follicles in rat females and causes permanent effects on rat males. Little data have been gathered on the associations between PBDEs exposure and birth outcome and female menstruation characteristics in both epidemiological and animal studies. The aim of this study was to examine how PBDEs in breast milk are associated with infant birth outcome and maternal menstruation characteristics. Study participants were healthy women recruited from central Taiwan between December 2000 and November 2001. Twelve congener levels of PBDEs (BDE-17, 28, 47, 66, 85, 99, 100, 138, 153, 154, 183, 209) in 20 breast milk samples were measured by gas chromatography with high resolution mass spectrometer. The mean level of PBDEs in breast milk was 3.93+/-1.74 ng/g lipid. The estimated PBDE daily intake for a breastfed infant was 20.6 ng/kg b.w./day after delivery. After maternal age, pre-pregnant BMI, and parity were adjusted, increased PBDEs in breast milk was related with decreased birth outcome, particularly for birth weight and length, chest circumference, and Quetelet's index of infants. No significant differences in PBDEs were found between the two groups of menstrual cycle length higher and lower than 30 days after we adjusted for maternal age, pre-pregnant BMI, and parity. In utero exposure to low doses of PBDEs may result in lower birth weight and short or birth length. Our findings are limited based on the low doses of PBDEs and the small sampling size.

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