Concentrations of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances in Paired Maternal Plasma and Human Milk in the New Hampshire Birth Cohort

Rachel L. Criswell, Yuting Wang, Brock Christensen, Julianne C. Botelho, Antonia M. Calafat, Lisa A. Peterson, Carin A. Huset, Margaret R. Karagas, Megan E. Romano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are environmentally persistent endocrine-disrupting chemicals associated with long-term health outcomes. PFAS are transferred from maternal blood to human milk, an important exposure source for infants, and understanding of this transfer is evolving. We characterized concentrations of 10 PFAS in human milk (n = 426) and compared milk-to-plasma concentrations of 9 PFAS among a subset of women with paired samples (n = 294) from the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study using liquid chromatography-isotope dilution tandem mass spectrometry. We examined the relationship between perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in plasma versus milk and fit linear regression models to assess relationships between milk PFOA and PFOS and participant characteristics. The median plasma PFOA concentration was 0.94 ng/mL (interquartile range, IQR, 0.59-1.34) and that of PFOS was 2.60 ng/mL (IQR 1.80-3.90); the median milk PFOA concentration was 0.017 ng/mL (IQR 0.012-0.027) and that of PFOS was 0.024 ng/mL (IQR 0.016-0.036). PFOA and PFOS plasma and milk concentrations showed correlations of ρ = 0.83 and 0.77, respectively (p < 0.001). Parity, previous lactation, week of milk collection, and body mass index were inversely associated with milk PFAS. We estimate that even among our general population cohort, some infants (∼6.5%) are exposed to amounts of PFAS via milk that may have long-term health impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-472
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank the NHBCS participants and the research staff who made the study possible, as well as Karin Vevang and Kitrina M. Barry for technical expertise in the analysis of PFAS in human milk. We also wish to acknowledge Kayoko Kato, Kendra Hubbard, John Eng, and Emmanuela Obi for technical assistance in quantifying plasma PFAS.

Funding Information:
Research reported in this project was supported by the National Institutes of Health through awards from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences under grants P01 ES022832, P42ES007373, and Minnesota CHEAR/HHEAR ES026533, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences under grant P20 GM104416, and the Office of the Director under grant UH3OD023275. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 American Chemical Society.


  • breastfeeding
  • endocrine-disrupting chemicals
  • human milk
  • per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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