Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins (polychlorinated dibenzo p-dioxins and dibenzofurans) are potentially hazardous compounds. Since food is the major source (>90%) for the accumulation of PCBs and dioxins in the human body, food habits in women determine the degree of fetal exposure and levels in human milk. In order to investigate an association between dietary intake and PCB and dioxin levels in human milk and PCB levels in maternal and cord plasma, the food intake of 418 Dutch women during pregnancy was recorded using semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaires. After adjusting for covariates, a weak association was found between the estimated dietary intake of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo p-dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD), dioxins, and planar PCBs and their corresponding levels in breast milk. The estimated dietary intake of 2,3,7,8-TCDD, dioxins, and planar PCBs was also related to the PCB levels in maternal and cord plasma. Dairy products accounted for about half and industrial oils for about a quarter of the estimated 2,3,7,8-TCDD, dioxin, and the planar PCB intake. It is concluded that the contribution of a pregnancy related diet to PCB and dioxin levels in human milk and to PCB levels in maternal and cord plasma is relatively low. Decrease of exposure to PCBs and dioxins of the fetus and the neonate probably requires long-term reduction of the intake of these pollutants. Substitution of normal cheese by low-fat cheese and the use of vegetable oils instead of fish oils in the preparation of foodstuffs by the food industry could contribute to a reduced intake of PCBs and dioxins.

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doi.org/10.1016/0045-6535(95)00296-K, hdl.handle.net/1765/67184
Department of Pediatrics

Huisman, M., Eerenstein, S. E. J., Koopman-Esseboom, C., Brouwer, M., Fidler, V., Muskiet, F., … Boersma, E. (1995). Perinatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins through dietary intake. Chemosphere, 31(10), 4273–4287. doi:10.1016/0045-6535(95)00296-K