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J Toxicol Environ Health. 1992 Feb;35(2):135-9.

Exposure to mercury via breast milk in suckling offspring of maternal guinea pigs exposed to mercury vapor after parturition.

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Department of Public Health, St. Marianna University School of Medicine, Kawasaki, Japan.


Exposure to an exogenous chemical via milk causes superimposition on the body burden that might have already existed in the neonatal organism due to in utero exposure. Such exposure via breast milk is avoidable, although transplacental exposure cannot be avoided at present. In this paper, mercury exposure via breast milk was examined in an animal model. Maternal guinea pigs were shortly exposed to mercury vapor at the mean concentrations of 6-10 mg/m3 immediately after parturition. Newborn guinea pigs were then nursed by the natural mothers. Mercury concentrations in breast milk and tissue samples were determined on d 3, 5, and 10 postpartum. Mercury concentrations in breast milk were slightly lower than plasma mercury concentrations of the maternal guinea pigs over the observation period. However, the decrease in the mercury concentration in breast milk with time was slower than that in maternal plasma. Mercury concentrations in major organs of the neonates were highest in kidney, followed by liver and lung. In brain and whole blood, mercury concentrations were slightly elevated compared with the nonexposed control. Organ distribution of mercury in the suckling neonates indicated that they were exposed via breast milk to inorganic, not elemental, mercury.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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