Background: Aluminum toxicity is well documented and contamination of milk formulas has been implicated as the source of accumulation in bone and brain tissues. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the aluminum contents of human milk, cow's milk, and infant formulas.
Methods: Aluminum contents were determined by atomic absorption spectrometry in samples of human milk in the colostrum, intermediate, and mature stages; infant formulas from eight manufacturers; and various types and brands of commercially available cow's milk.
Results: Mean aluminum concentration was lowest in human milk (23.4 +/- 9.6 microg/l), and did not differ significantly between colostrum, intermediate-stage and mature-stage milk. Mean aluminum concentration was 70 microg/l in cow's milk, and 226 microg/l in reconstituted infant formulas. Aluminum concentrations in infant formulas differed markedly among manufacturers; concentration in milk from one of the manufacturers was particularly high (mean, 551 microg/l; range, 302-1149 microg/l). These values are for milk reconstituted with aluminum-free water under laboratory conditions; formulas prepared with tap water in the University Hospital's infant-feeding unit had even higher aluminum content. Experiments showed that aluminum concentration in the high-aluminum milk could be reduced by more than 70% at the manufacturing stage, by using low aluminum components.
Conclusions: The results of the present study support the recommendations for infant formula manufacturers to strive to reduce aluminum concentration in their products.