Many women collect and store their breastmilk for later personal use or for donations to hospitals or milk banks. But chemicals leaching from the plastic materials used for collection, handling, and long-term storage of breastmilk may increase contamination by phthalates, BPA, and other chemicals.
Dr. Asa Bradman, associate director for exposure assessment at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health’s Center for Environmental Research & Children’s Health, recently received a grant of $90,000 from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) to look into this possibility and evaluate the potential risks. The research team will study breastmilk collection and storage materials to determine whether inappropriate handling and storage increases chemical contamination in breastmilk.
“Manufacturers are transitioning to new materials used for the collecting and storing breastmilk,” says Dr. Bradman. “We hope those steps minimize contaminants, but there is little baseline information. Much of donated breastmilk is used in NICUs for premature infants, so the study will generate new information on potential exposures to this extremely vulnerable population.”