Concentrations of the potential pollutants, lead and cadmium, were studied in the perinatal period in a British urban population. Blood lead and cadmium concentrations and iron status were measured in 28 mother and infant pairs at delivery and at five days postpartum in the mother; breast milk collected at five days postpartum under controlled conditions was analysed for lead and cadmium. Placental transfer of both metals was noted; concentrations of lead in breast milk (mean concentration 0.01 mmol/l (2 micrograms/l) were less than in two brands of commercial prepacked formulas, and the concentration of cadmium in breast milk and prepacked formulas (mean 3.6 nmol/l (0.4 microgram/l] were similar. The risk of excess lead or cadmium intake from breast milk is small.
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