Early-life exposure to lithium and boron from drinking water

Reprod Toxicol. 2012 Dec;34(4):552-60. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2012.08.009. Epub 2012 Sep 7.


The transfer of lithium and boron from exposed mothers to fetuses and breast-fed infants was investigated in areas in northern Argentina and Chile with up to 700 μg lithium/L and 5-10 mg boron/L in drinking water. Maternal and cord blood concentrations were strongly correlated and similar in size for both lithium (47 and 70 μg/L, respectively) and boron (220 and 145 μg/L, respectively). The first infant urine produced after birth contained the highest concentrations (up to 1700 μg lithium/L and 14,000 μg boron/L). Breast-milk contained 40 and 60% of maternal blood concentrations of lithium and boron, respectively (i.e. about 30 and 250 μg/L, respectively, in high exposure areas), and infant urine concentrations decreased immediately after birth (120 μg lithium/L and 920 μg boron/L). We conclude that lithium and boron easily passed the placenta to the fetus, and that exclusively breast-fed infants seemed to have lower exposure than formula-fed infants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Argentina
  • Boron / analysis*
  • Breast Feeding
  • Chile
  • Drinking Water
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lithium / analysis*
  • Maternal Exposure*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Milk, Human / chemistry
  • Pregnancy
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*
  • Young Adult


  • Drinking Water
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Lithium
  • Boron