Human Milk Surveillance and Research of Environmental Chemicals: Concepts for Consideration in Interpreting and Presenting Study Results
This article describes issues related to the interpretation, presentation, and use of data from human milk surveillance and research studies. It is hoped that researchers conducting human milk studies in the future will consider these concepts when formulating study conclusions and presenting data. The key issues discussed are; (1) communication of information on human milk constituents to health care providers and the public; (2) complexities associated with assessing risks and benefits when comparing breast-feeding and formula-feeding; (3) use of human milk information for trends analysis and assessment of the efficacy of restrictions on use/release of chemicals in the environment; and (4) risk assessment and regulatory decision-making concepts regarding environmental chemicals in human milk. As researchers conduct surveillance and research involving human milk, it is of the utmost importance that the results of these studies are provided with information on risk and benefits that place the data in perspective, so that those involved in decision making regarding infant nutrition (e.g., expectant mothers, physicians, midwives, nurses, and lactation consultants) can appropriately interpret the research data.