Detection of lithium in breast milk and in situ elemental analysis of the mammary gland

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number#335143
Pages (from-to)4184-4195
Journal / PublicationBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number9
Online published13 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018



Breast feeding provides considerable benefits to the infant and mother. However, a lithium-based psychiatric medication may cause side effects in the child. Using laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), trace lithium levels were observed in the breast milk of lactating rats administered with lithium treatment postpartum. Subsequently, the mammary glands of female rats were analyzed using LIBS, energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Key biological elements iron, magnesium, cobalt, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, iodine, potassium, sulfur, chlorine and zinc were observed. Lithium at 1.06 μg/g was measured in the mammary glands of treated subjects, but was below the limit of detection in controls. Lithium also increased iodine content in the glands. Lithium is present in the breast milk and mammary glands of lithium treated female subjects and this is the likely route of entry to breast-fed infants.

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