Demographic and lifestyle factors associated with dioxin-like activity (CALUX-TEQ) in human breast milk in Hong Kong

E. A.S. Nelson, L. L. Hui, T. W. Wong, A. J. Hedley

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Maternal exposure to dioxins and related compounds before conception may affect the health of the fetus. To identify factors affecting dioxin body load in Hong Kong, in 2002, total dioxin-like activity was estimated in 250 individual milk samples at 2-6 weeks postpartum, from a representative group of primiparous mothers, aged 18-42 years (mean 29 ± 5 years), by a chemically activated luciferase expression (CALUX) bioassay. Associations between the CALUX-TEQ and 20 socio-demographic and dietary variables were examined separately in mothers younger than 30 years (n = 114) and 30 years or older (n = 119), by multiple linear regression analysis. CALUX-TEQ (mean 14.5 ± 5.8 pg/g fat) significantly increased by 0.4-0.5 pg/g fat for every year of the mother's age. Mothers born in Guangdong province of China had a significantly higher CALUX-TEQ. Higher seafood consumption (older mothers; p = 0.07) and having a female baby (younger mothers; p = 0.002) were associated with a higher maternal CALUX-TEQ level. Age was the strongest factor affecting human dioxin levels in Hong Kong. Birthplace and residence are important indicators of variations in exposure to environmental pollution in the Asia Pacific region. Temporal trends in body loads of dioxins remain to be established and continuous monitoring of dioxins in humans and foods is necessary as a precautionary approach to guide environmental control measures and prevent exposure to infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1432-1438
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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