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Breastfeeding and environmental chemicals

Breastfeeding is seen as a natural process. Historically it has been the only way of keeping infants alive, and although alternatives are now available, health authorities still consider breastfeeding the best choice due to the many beneficial health effects for the infant and the mother. However, as all humans today are continuously exposed to environmental chemicals, including the persistent per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), breastmilk is not always clean, and chemicals might affect women’s ability to breastfeed.


The aim of the proposed project is to understand the role of environmental chemicals in relation to breastfeeding and subsequent child health.


Using epidemiological methods on three sets of detailed cohort data from Denmark, Norway, and the United States, we will: 1) identify environmental chemicals that affect women’s ability to breastfeed, 2) explore potential interactions between PFAS exposure and breastfeeding in relation to child immune function, and 3) detect effects on child gut microbiota associated with breastmilk PFAS concentrations and breastfeeding quantity.

Project period

1/4 2024 – 31/3 2028 



This project is supported by the Independent Research Fund Denmark with a Sapere Aude grant


Last Updated 12.12.2023