1st National Conference on Applied Biomedical Sciences

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Research Title: 
Breast milk and blood lead levels among Palestinian breastfeeding mothers in the West Bank
Arab American University, Jenin, Palestine
Sat, 2014-12-20
Research Abstract: 

Background: Lead is one of the main ubiquitously present pollutants in our environment. Toxicity due to lead is a global public health concern. In Palestine, chronic exposure to lead among breastfeeding mothers has not been adequately addressed. The purpose of this study was to determine and evaluate the levels of lead in milk and blood samples from breastfeeding mothers in the West Bank.

Methods: The ethics and protocol of this cross-sectional study were approved by the Institutional Review Board of An-Najah National University. The study was conducted during the period of March and August 2014. Breastfeeding mothers visiting maternity clinics in Nablus, Ramallah and Jerusalem areas were included in this study. The inclusion criteria were healthy mother, absence of chronic diseases, full-term pregnancy, breastfeeding between the 15th and 210th day after giving birth, and from the West Bank. A total of 89 volunteers were recruited in this study. Milk and blood samples were collected, mothers were interviewed and responded to a socio-demographic questionnaire. Lead levels in milk and blood were quantified using a graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometer.

Results: The median milk lead level was 4 µg/L, ranging from 2 to 12 µg/L. The median blood lead level was 1 µg/dL, ranging from 0.2 to 6.6 µg/dL. Milk lead levels significantly correlated with the mother's place of residence, being higher in city and refugees camp than village (p<0.05). Milk lead levels also correlated with income, if the mother lived near a paint's shop, worked in agriculture, and used kohl (p<0.05). No correlation was found between the milk and blood lead levels.     

Conclusion: In general, milk and blood lead levels found in this study were similar to those quantified in other countries and were within background levels.