Information for Breastfeeding Families
on Contaminants and Minimizing Your Exposure
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Information: Jane Crouse, PRManager at llli.org (847) 519-7730, Ext. 271.
Routine monitoring of chemicals in human urine, blood, hair and milk show that environmental contaminants are present, not just in these testing specimens, but in the fat cells of everyone living in the area tested. Their presence is a reflection of the substances that exist in a particular community. This is a reason to eliminate toxins from the environment--not a reason to eliminate breastfeeding.
Virtually every infant born today already has a body burden of industrial chemicals. Indeed, evidence demonstrates that babies are more vulnerable to transmission of substances during the prenatal stage than after birth.
While human milk has higher levels of some persistent organic pollutants than artificial baby milk, infant formula is not pollutant free and has been, among other things, associated with higher levels of heavy metals, phytoestrogens and bacteria. Many well-documented studies demonstrate the health risks of formula feeding, including life-threatening errors in the manufacturing process. Human milk will never be recalled because of manufacturer error. It does not have to be delivered in plastic baby bottles contaminated with bisphenol-A.
There is evidence that human milk with its species-specific optimal nutrition and its anti-inflammatory agents, including antioxidants, helps a child develop a stronger immune system and other potential protections against environmental pollutants and pathogens. In regard to organochlorine compounds, a recent study in Pediatrics states: "Long-term breastfeeding was found to be beneficial to neurodevelopment, potentially counterbalancing the impact of exposure to these chemicals through breast milk."
The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other major health associations, overwhelmingly support the importance of breastfeeding even in a contaminated world. Documented benefits of breastfeeding include reduced incidences of the following: insulin dependent diabetes, some childhood cancers, ear infections, upper respiratory infections, obesity and other health problems. In addition, studies suggest that breastfeeding may have a positive influence upon the development of verbal and general intelligence.
It is impossible to reduce exposure to all chemical elements. However, for those who would like to reduce contact with chemicals especially before pregnancy, and during pregnancy and lactation, the following suggestions may be helpful.
10 Simple Steps to Help Reduce the Level of Chemicals in Your Body
- Avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol since levels of contaminants have been found to be higher in those who smoke and drink alcoholic beverages.
- Be aware in purchasing homes and buildings that have been treated with pesticides for termites and/or older homes that might have lead-based paints.
- In general, eat a variety of foods low in animal fats, remove skin and excess fat from meats and poultry. Avoiding high-fat dairy products may reduce the potential burden of fat-soluble contaminants.
- Increase consumption of grains, fruits and vegetables. Thoroughly wash and peel fruits and vegetables to help eliminate the hazard of pesticide residues on the skin. When available, eat food grown without fertilizer or pesticide application.
- Avoid fish such as swordfish and shark or freshwater fish from waters reported as contaminated by local health agencies.
- Limit exposure to chemicals such as solvents found in paints, non-water based glues, furniture strippers, nail polish, and gasoline fumes.
- Remove the plastic cover of dry cleaned clothing, and air out the garments in a room with open windows for 12-24 hours.
- Try to avoid contact with incinerator discharge, preserved wood, or produce grown near incinerators.
- For those in the workforce, attempt to avoid occupational exposure to chemical contaminants and seek improved workplace chemical safety standards for all employees, especially pregnant and lactating women.
- Encourage other family members to be sensitive to contaminant residue they may inadvertently bring into the home.