Breastfeeding: Can Toxins in Breast Milk Harm Your Baby?

breastfeeding harmful toxins

A study conducted last August by P. Grandjean, a professor of environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health, found increased levels of PFAS’s in some children who had been breastfed longer than three months. These chemicals are thought to reduce the effects of some vaccines, leaving your child susceptible to diseases. This has many mothers wondering if continuing to breastfed their babies could be potentially harmful. Here are a few facts to consider before you start breastfeeding.

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has long been known for its ability to provide antibodies that aid baby’s brain development and immune system. This is a fact known worldwide and mother’s milk has been recommended by doctors as the best for babies for decades. Comparing this knowledge with the single secluded study is by no means grounds to start rethinking how to feed your baby.

Breastmilk has a natural bacteria by the name of Bifidobacterium which is able to metabolize some environmental contaminants. This lessens any risk they may have on your little one. In manufactured formulas, there have been traces of toxins such as perchlorate, melamine and even arsenic found in some organic brands. So it is not only breastfed babies that are at risk.

Need For Further Evidence 

Furthermore, the study only followed a mere 81 children and mothers which only resided in the Faroe Islands. Since they were all from the same place, the research was not extensive enough nor does it cover much ground geographically. There are other factors that could be contributing to the high levels of toxins found in the mothers and children. The diet in the Faroe Islands is made up mostly of fish and whale which may contain potent levels of chemicals. Rumors of chemtrails being spread over the island which is known to harm the human immune system could also be a potential cause. With so many other things that were not taken into account, one can only conclude that more research is needed before any decisions on how to nourish your child are made.

Whale meat, blubber, and fish are regularly consumed in mass quantities on the Islands due to the shortage of other fresh meats and high costs of imported food items. PFASs were found to linger in human fat for extended periods of time, so it would make sense if it were concentrated in the whale blubber as well. In fact, the very same head researcher P. Grandjean tested the pilot whale for harmful toxins for many years and recommended it was only safe to consume whale meat or blubber once a month due to the levels of mercury and PCB found along with other toxins.

If you still feel you or your baby may be a risk from these chemicals, there are a few things you can do to lessen your intake lowering the chance of passing on the toxins to the baby through breastfeeding.

  • Eating limited quantities of fish
  • Choosing to eat pesticide-free foods
  • Be aware of the ingredients used in your cosmetics
  • Using safer household cleaning products

These are all great ways to reduce your body’s exposure to harmful toxins.

Unfortunately, there is no way to stay completely away from pollution due to the concentrated amounts of chemicals used to manufacture many products worldwide. Whether you breastfeed or supplement, there is no wrong way to care for your baby. Mother knows best, so make the choice that is right for you and your family.        


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