Early-life intake of major trace elements, bisphenol A, tetrabromobisphenol A and fatty acids: Comparing human milk and commercial infant formulas

Environ Res. 2019 Feb;169:246-255. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.11.017. Epub 2018 Nov 16.


In the present study, the presence of a wide spectrum of major and trace elements (As, Ag, Al, Ba, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Ni, Sr, Sb, Se, Sn, Pb, V, and Zn), fatty acids, as well as some pollutants like free and total BPA and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), was analysed in human milk (n = 53) and infant formula (n = 50) samples. In addition, the infant exposure to these chemicals was assessed. The content of free BPA and several elements (Al, Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Na, Ni, Sn, Sr, and Zn) was higher (p < 0.01) in infant formula samples. Furthermore, human milk contained levels of BPA and elements that, in almost all cases, were well below their respective EFSA and/or WHO thresholds, being also independent of the maternal characteristics (e.g., age, BMI or breastfeeding period). The fatty acid profiling also revealed major differences between human milk and infant formulas, which should be taken in account in the development of new formulas as well as in specific recommendations for the diet of breastfeeding mothers. Anyway, the results of this study reinforce that breastfeeding should be always the first feeding option in early life.

Keywords: Bisphenol A; Chemical elements; Fatty acids; Formula milk; Human milk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzhydryl Compounds / analysis*
  • Dietary Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula / chemistry*
  • Life
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Trace Elements / analysis*


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Fatty Acids
  • Phenols
  • Polybrominated Biphenyls
  • Trace Elements
  • tetrabromobisphenol A
  • bisphenol A