Musk in breastmilk

Breast milk from US mothers has recently been found to contain synthetic musk compounds at higher levels than those reported in previous studies.

Concern was first raised about musks a decade ago, when they were found in human breast milk in Europe, and some musks have since been phased out because of toxicity concerns.
However, newer polycyclic musks are now widespread in beauty, household, and other products, and anything that smells good is likely to contain them - lotions, shaving creams, shampoos, conditioners, detergents, fabric softeners, air fresheners, household cleaners, and even some 'unscented' products.

The musk compounds found in breast milk are thought to have been acquired through direct contact by mothers with such products. It should therefore be possible to reduce the amount of musk being passed on to babies by mothers opting to use only completely natural personal care and household products.

The toxicology of polycyclic musks themselves is not well established, but it has been suggested that these chemicals may enhance the toxicity of other compounds. (Environ. Health Perspect. 2005, 113, 17–24)

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First Published in December 2007

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