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Today, The Visible Embryo is linked to over 600 educational institutions and is viewed by more than 1 million visitors each month. The field of early embryology has grown to include the identification of the stem cell as not only critical to organogenesis in the embryo, but equally critical to organ function and repair in the adult human. The identification and understanding of genetic malfunction, inflammatory responses, and the progression in chronic disease, begins with a grounding in primary cellular and systemic functions manifested in the study of the early embryo.

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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersLungs begin to produce surfactantImmune system beginningHead may position into pelvisFull TermPeriod of rapid brain growthWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisWhite fat begins to be madeImmune system beginningBrain convolutions beginBrain convolutions beginFetal liver is producing blood cellsSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresFemale Reproductive SystemEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterSecond TrimesterFirst TrimesterFertilizationDevelopmental Timeline
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Home | Pregnancy Timeline | News Alerts |News Archive Feb 25, 2015

In the FIRST US study of urinary arsenic in babies, Dartmouth College researchers found
that formula-fed infants have higher arsenic levels than breast-fed infants, and that
breast milk itself contained very low arsenic concentrations.
Image Credit: Dartmouth College

 






 

 

Baby formula poses arsenic threat to newborns

In the FIRST U.S. study of urinary arsenic in babies, Dartmouth College researchers found that formula-fed infants had higher arsenic levels than breast-fed infants, and that breast milk itself contained very low arsenic concentrations.

The findings appear Feb. 23 online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Researchers measured arsenic in home tap water, and the urine from 72 six-week-old infants and then the breast milk from nine women, all in New Hampshire. Urinary arsenic was 7.5 times lower in breast-fed than in formula-fed infants. And tap water had the highest arsenic concentration far exceeding the arsenic concentrations in powdered formula. But, for the majority of study participants both the powdered formulas and tap water contributed to their higher arsenic exposure.


"Study results highlight that breastfeeding can reduce arsenic exposure even at the relatively low levels of arsenic typically found in the United States. This is an important public health benefit of breastfeeding."

Kathryn L Cottingham PhD, Professor, Biological Sciences
and Co-Chair Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program, and lead co-author on the study.


Arsenic occurs naturally in bedrock and is a common global contaminant of well water. It causes cancers and other diseases, and early-life exposure has been associated with increased fetal mortality, decreased birth weight and diminished cognitive function.

The Environmental Protection Agency has set a maximum contaminant level for public drinking water. But, private well water is not subject to regulation and is the primary source of water in many rural parts of the United States.


"We advise families with private wells to have their tap water tested for arsenic. We predict that population-wide arsenic exposure will increase during the second part of the first year of life as formula-feeding increases."

Margaret R Karagas PhD, principal investigator at Dartmouth's Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center and study co-author.


Abstract
Background: Previous studies indicate that breast milk arsenic concentrations are relatively low even in areas with high drinking water arsenic. However, it is uncertain whether breastfeeding leads to reduced infant exposure to arsenic in regions with lower arsenic concentrations.
Objective: We estimated the relative contributions of breast milk and formula to arsenic exposure during early infancy in a U.S. population.

Methods: We measured arsenic in home tap water (n=874), urine from six-week-old infants (n=72), and breast milk from mothers (n=9) enrolled in the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study (NHBCS) using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Using data from a three-day food diary, we compared urinary arsenic across infant feeding types and developed predictive exposure models to estimate daily arsenic intake from breast milk and formula.

Results: Urinary arsenic concentrations were generally low (median 0.17 µg/L, maximum 3.0 µg/L) but 7.5 times higher for infants fed exclusively with formula than for infants fed exclusively with breast milk (β = 2.02; 95% CI: 1.21, 2.83; P<0.0001, adjusted for specific gravity). Similarly, the median estimated daily arsenic intake by NHBCS infants was 5.5 times higher for formula-fed infants (0.04 µg/kg/d) compared to breastfed infants (0.22 µg/kg/d). Given median arsenic concentrations measured in NHBCS tap water and previously published for formula powder, formula powder was estimated to account for ~70% of median exposure among formula-fed NHBCS infants.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that breastfed infants have lower arsenic exposure than formula-fed infants, and that both formula powder and drinking water can be sources of exposure for U.S. infants.

The study was supported by grants from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the EPA.

Broadcast studios: Dartmouth has TV and radio studios available for interviews. For more information, visit: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~opa/radio-tv-studios/

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