Photoinitiators detected in human breast milk

November 20, 2019

Photoinitators (PIs) are compounds used in the ink of many types of food packaging. The substances have been shown to migrate into food and, when consumed, show up in human blood serum. Now, for the first time, researchers report they have detected PIs in human breast milk, although they say the levels consumed by breastfeeding infants are unlikely to be a health concern. The report appears in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

Photopolymerization is widely considered a "green" technology for the manufacture of light-sensitive materials, such as ultraviolet (UV)-curable inks, coatings and resins. In this process, UV light degrades PIs to free radicals and other active substances that harden, or cure, the ink. However, not all of the PIs are used up during the reaction, and scientists have detected the compounds in food, indoor dust and blood serum. At high enough levels, some PIs have toxic or carcinogenic effects. Runzeng Liu and Scott Mabury wondered whether PIs could pass into human breast milk and, if so, how much of the compounds breastfed infants were likely to ingest. 

The researchers used mass spectrometry to analyze breast milk samples collected from 60 U.S. women. They detected 15 different PIs at a wide range of concentrations: from 0.46 ng/mL to 81.7 ng/mL. Benzophenone (BP) -- a potential carcinogen -- comprised 79% of the total PIs and was detected in 97% of the breast milk samples. The researchers note that BP is a natural product also present in fruits such as grapes, which could have contributed to the levels in milk. Based on infants' average milk consumption at different ages, the team estimated that infants younger than one month have the highest daily intake of PIs. However, the maximum amount of BP ingested as calculated by the researchers would still be about 4 times lower than the safe level set by the European Food Safety Authority, suggesting no or minor health risks to breastfeeding infants. Future studies should explore potential risks caused by simultaneous exposure to several PIs, the researchers say.    
-end-
The authors acknowledge funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

The abstract that accompanies this study is available here.

The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us on Twitter | Facebook

American Chemical Society

Related Infants Articles from Brightsurf:

Most infants are well even when moms are infected by COVID-19
Infants born to women with COVID-19 showed few adverse outcomes, according to the first report in the country of infant outcomes through eight weeks of age.

Probiotic may help treat colic in infants
Probiotics -- or 'good bacteria' -- have been used to treat infant colic with varying success.

Deaf infants' gaze behavior more advanced than that of hearing infants
Deaf infants who have been exposed to American Sign Language are better at following an adult's gaze than their hearing peers, supporting the idea that social-cognitive development is sensitive to different kinds of life experiences.

Initiating breastfeeding in vulnerable infants
The benefits of breastfeeding for both mother and child are well-recognized, including for late preterm infants (LPI).

Young infants with fever may be more likely to develop infections
Infants with a high fever may be at increased risk for infections, according to research from Penn State College of Medicine.

Early term infants less likely to breastfeed
A new, prospective study provides evidence that 'early term' infants (those born at 37-38 weeks) are less likely than full-term infants to be breastfeed within the first hour and at one month after birth.

Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer
Researchers at the University of Connecticut and University of Washington looked at the mechanisms involved in language learning among nine-month-olds, the youngest population known to be studied in relation to on-screen learning.

Allergic reactions to foods are milder in infants
Majority of infants with food-induced anaphylaxis present with hives and vomiting, suggesting there is less concern for life-threatening response to early food introduction.

Non-dairy drinks can be dangerous for infants
A brief report published in Acta Paediatrica points to the dangers of replacing breast milk or infant formula with a non-dairy drink before one year of age.

Infants can't talk, but they know how to reason
A new study reveals that preverbal infants are able to make rational deductions, showing surprise when an outcome does not occur as expected.

Read More: Infants News and Infants Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.