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Breast Milk Contamination and Silicone Implants: Preliminary Results Using Silicon as a Proxy Measurement for Silicone

Semple, John L. M.D., M.Sc., F.R.C.S.C., F.A.C.S.; Lugowski, Stan J. Ph.D.; Baines, Cornelia J. M.D., M.Sc.; Smith, Dennis C. Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.C.S.; McHugh, Alana M.Sc.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: August 1998 - Volume 102 - Issue 2 - p 528–533
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In response to concerns about contamination of human breast milk from silicone gel-filled breast implants, and because silicon levels are assumed to be a proxy measurement for silicone, we compared silicon levels in milk from lactating women with and without implants. Two other sources of infant nutrition, cow's milk and infant formulas, were also analyzed for silicon.

The survey took place at the Breast-feeding Clinic at Women's College Hospital in Toronto. A convenience sample of lactating women, 15 with bilateral silicone gelfilled implants and 34 with no implants, was selected. Women with foam-covered or saline implants or with medically related silicone exposures were ineligible. Collection of samples was scrupulously controlled to avoid contamination. Samples were prepared in a class 100 “ultraclean” laboratory and analyzed using graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Silicon levels were analyzed in breast milk, whole blood, cow's milk, and 26 brands of infant formulas.

Comparing implanted women to controls, mean silicon levels were not significantly different in breast milk (55.45 ± 35 and 51.05 ± 31 ng/ml, respectively) or in blood (79.29 ± 87 and 103.76 ± 112 ng/ml, respectively). Mean silicon level measured in store-bought cow's milk was 708.94 ng/ml, and that for 26 brands of commercially available infant formula was 4402.5 ng/ml (ng/ml = parts per billion). We concluded that lactating women with silicone implants are similar to control women with respect to levels of silicon in their breast milk and blood. Silicon levels are 10 times higher in cow's milk and even higher in infant formulas. (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 102: 528, 1998.)

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

John L. Semple, M.D.

University of Toronto

Women's College Hospital

76 Grenville Street

Toronto, Ontario

Canada M5S 1B2

From the Division of Plastic Surgery at Women's College Hospital and the Departments of Surgery, Biomaterials, and Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics at the University of Toronto. Received for publication July 22, 1997; revised November 28, 1997.

©1998American Society of Plastic Surgeons