High levels of DDT in breast milk: intake, risk, lactation duration, and involvement of gender

21 January 2014

We investigated presence and levels of DDT in 163 breast milk samples from four South African villages where, in three of them, malaria is controlled with DDT-sprayed indoors. Mean ΣDDT levels in breast milk were 18, 11, and 9.5 mg/kg mf (milk fat) from the three DDT-sprayed villages, respectively, including the highest ΣDDT level ever reported for breast milk from South Africa (140 mg/kg mf). Understanding the causes for these differences would be informative for exposure reduction intervention. The Provisional Tolerable Daily Intake (PTDI) for DDT by infants, and the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) were significantly exceeded. DDT had no effect on duration of lactation. There were indications (not significant) from DDT-sprayed villages that first-born female infants drink milk with more ΣDDT than first-born male infants, and vice versa for multipara male and female infants, suggesting gender involvement on levels of DDT in breast milk – requiring further investigation.