Introduction: The use of p,p′-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) has been banned since the late 1970s due to its toxicity. However, its long half-life makes it persistent in the environment and, consequently, almost everyone has DDT residues in the body. Human milk constitutes an ideal non-conventional matrix to investigate environmental chronic exposure to organochlorine compounds (OCs) residues. The study aimed to identify potential population risk factors of exposure to DDT due to the proximity to countries where it is still used. Methods: Seventy-two consecutive lactating women were prospectively included in Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain). A validated questionnaire was used to obtain socioeconomic, demographics data, and daily habits during pregnancy. DDT levels in breast milk were measured by gas chromatography with-electron capture detector (GC-ECD). Anthropometrics measurements in newborns were obtained. Results: Thirty-four out of 72 (47.2%) of the analysed milk samples presented detectable levels of DDT (mean: 0.92 ng/g), ranging between 0.08 to 16.96 ng/g. The socio-demographic variables did not significantly differ between detectable DDT and non-detectable DDT groups. We found positive association between DDT levels and vegetables (OR (95%CI): 1.23 (1.01-1.50)) and poultry meat (OR (95%CI): 2.05 (1.16-3.60)) consumption, and also between the presence of DDT in breast milk and gestational age (OR (95%CI): 0.59 (0.40-0.90)). Conclusions: DDT is present in breast milk of women at the time of delivery. Residual levels and the spread from countries still using DDT explain DDT detection from vegetables and from animal origin food. The presence of this compound in breast milk represents a pre- and postnatal exposure hazard for foetuses and infants due to chronic bioaccumulation and poor elimination, with possible deleterious effects on health. This data should be used to raise awareness of the risks of OCs exposure and to help establish health policies in order to avoid its use worldwide and thus, to prevent its propagation. © 2014 Vall et al.
Vall, O., Gomez-Culebras, M., Puig, C., Rodriguez-Carrasco, E., Gomez Baltazar, A., Canchucaja, L., … Garcia-Algar, O. (2014). Prenatal and postnatal exposure to DDT by breast milk analysis in Canary Islands. PLoS ONE, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0083831