Article by Shivani Kamal
2015 pilot award recipient, Dr. Candace Bever conducted a study examining the presence of chemicals in human breast milk. The chemicals she selected for the project are some found in personal-care products such as toothpaste and liquid hand soap. One particular chemical used in these products is triclosan, an antibacterial agent. Triclosan ends up in a person’s body, including breast milk, through the use of products that contain the chemical.
One goal of the study was to understand how the patterns of personal care product use relates to the concentrations measured in the breast milk of nursing women. Although this study involved a small group of women, Dr. Bever and her colleagues are developing an antibody-based chemical detection tool that can be used for much larger population-based studies. By improving chemical detection technology, scientists and public health officials can obtain the information they need to evaluate risk and prevent exposures that could harm young infants and children.