Toxic elements identified in breast milk of mothers residing in water contaminated region of Sindh and their impact on infants’ growth patterns: A case-control study

Nurmeen Adil, Syed Sibt-e-Hassan, Amna Jabbar Siddiqui, Zehra Jamil, Junaid Iqbal, Syed Asad Ali, Syed Ghulam Musharraf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Breast milk is a vital source of nutrition for breastfed infants, providing essential nutrients and elements but, in some cases, toxic ones. This is the first case-control study that investigated the elemental profile of breast milk samples collected from mothers residing in Matiari (Sindh), a region with insufficient industrial waste management, and its potential impact on infants' anthropometrics. Precisely, 62 milk samples, including 42 cases and 20 controls, were analyzed using the ICP-MS technique. Overall, six elements showed significance between the two groups, arsenic (As) was present at 0.68 μg/L in cases and absent in controls, while lead (Pb) exhibited elevated concentrations in the case group at 4.56 μg/L compared to 0.25 μg/L in controls, well-known for their toxicity. Barium (Ba) and manganese (Mn) levels were also higher in cases, associated with reported health effects on child well-being. Essential elements molybdenum (Mo) and selenium (Se) were higher in the controls. Furthermore, the association of these metals with the child growth standards as per WHO guidelines was calculated. Linear regression analysis revealed As negatively associated with WAZ and WHZ scores, while Mo was positively associated with WAZ, WHZ, and HAZ scores. These findings highlight serious health concerns in the region, where toxic elements pervade drinking water and food sources. Immediate actions are imperative to maintain the wellness of future generations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124368
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Volume356
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2024

Keywords

  • Breast milk
  • Height-for-age z score (HAZ)
  • Infant health
  • Toxic elements
  • Weight-for-age z score (WAZ)
  • Weight-for-height z score (WHZ)

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