Infant doses from the transfer of radionuclides in mothers' milk

John Harrison*, T. J. Smith, A. W. Phipps

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Assessments of potential internal exposures of the child following radionuclide intakes by the mother require consideration of transfers during lactation as well as during pregnancy. Current ICRP work on internal dosimetry includes the estimation of radiation doses to newborn infants from radionuclides ingested in mothers' milk. Infant doses will be calculated for maternal intakes by ingestion or inhalation of the radionuclides, radioisotopes of 31 elements, for which fetal dose coefficients have been published. In this paper, modelling approaches are examined, concentrating on models developed for iodine, caesium, polonium, alkaline earth elements and the actinides. Comparisons of model predictions show maximum overall transfer to milk following maternal ingestion during lactation of about 30% of ingested activity for 131I, 20% for 45Ca and 137Cs, 10% for 90Sr, 1% for 210Po and low values of less than 0.01% for 239Pu and 241Am. The corresponding infant doses from milk consumption are estimated in preliminary calculations to be about two to three times the adult dose for 45Ca and 131I, 70-80% of the adult dose for 90Sr, about 40% for 137Cs, 20% for 210Po, and <0.1% for 239Pu and 241Am. Infant doses from radionuclides in breast milk are compared with doses to the offspring resulting from in utero exposures during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-256
Number of pages6
JournalRadiation Protection Dosimetry
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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