My research this summer focused on various components of human breast milk. This included both expected components, such as vitamins, and toxins. The construction at Pace prevented me from beginning any physical research, but did allow me to do literary research on a few different topics. The literary research helped me narrow down what I want to focus my laboratory research on and look at the methods of researchers have tried.
There were 4 main topics that I reviewed multiple articles and papers on: B vitamins, antioxidants, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The vitamin and antioxidant papers often focused on how maternal nutritional deficiencies pass through as deficiencies in the breast milk produced, affecting the nutritional levels of the infants. Other papers focused on studies of the concentrations of PAHs and PCBs, along with other toxins, in breast milk samples from different areas. Trends and correlations were reported and discussed between the toxin concentration and various environmental pollutants in the living area of the mother.
I also looked at articles that focused on the experimental methods used to determine the presence and concentration of the various components of human milk. The commonly used methods already in place, often used for developing and determining standards, were discussed with their pros and cons. B-vitamin analyses are often completed with radioisotope dilution or chromatography with UV, fluorometric, and mass spectrometry detection. However, these methods are not thoroughly validated for whole and accurate results with solutions as complex as that of human milk. However, the accuracy of these analyses are important for determining the appropriate infant nutritional requirements.
From the papers and articles I have read, I am hoping to repeat some of the toxin studies with local breast milk samples and compare my results with previously reported trends. Until laboratory construction is completed, I plan to continue reviewing articles and papers focusing on similar research.