Toxins In Breastmilk

Toxins Found in Breast Milk

baby bottle with cigarettes
  • PCBs: Man-made toxins.
  • PVC: In toys, food packaging and some medical products. When burnt PVC produces dioxins.
  • Penta: Used in all furniture foams and electronics.
  • Insect killers (pesticides)
  • Chemicals in the workplace.
  • Contaminated food or water.
  • Weed killers (herbicides).
  • Waste site toxins that have contaminated water or soil nearby.
  • Plastic bottles that contain BPA. 

These toxic substances affect the nervous system, hormone (endocrine system) and the reproductive system of animals. Some countries have actually stopped using PVC.

These toxins are found in mostly fatty foods like meat and milk.

Other Contaminants such as lead, mercury, heavy metals, and solvents have been found in breast milk too.

Toxins Found in Formula Milk

Formula milk has lower levels of PCBs and dioxins than breast milk, but has a risk of containing the following:

  • Traces of lead & aluminium from processing the formula.
  • Formula is mixed with tap water, which contains nitrate fertilizers and weed fillers.

Despite all the Toxins in Breastmilk...

Is Breast Still Best?

Yes. Breast milk contains antioxidants, which act against the toxins. Breast milk also helps baby develop a stronger immune system.

The levels of toxins in the air and in food are becoming less and less as time goes by, reducing the risk of toxins in breastmilk. Also, if you live in a rural area away from waste and incinerators, you have a lower level of exposure to these toxins.

Formula can be contaminated with bacteria, organisms, and other particles. In September 2008, about 15,000 babies from China were hospitalized for drinking formula that was contaminated with melamine. 

More babies are harmed by drinking formula, than breastfed babies, even in cases where breast milk has been found to be highly contaminated. 

Even though the contamination in breast milk can cause health issues, breast milk can protect baby from these health problems, whereas if a baby was drinking formula, nothing in the formula could protect the baby. 

How can I Limit the Amount of Toxins in my Breast Milk?

baby sleeping
  • Stay away from household paints, Glue, Furniture stripper, Nail polish, Petrol fumes, Pesticides, and Perfume.
  • Eat less meat and more vegetables.
  • Avoid eating swordfish, shark, and tuna.
  • Wash non-organic foods thoroughly.
  • Stay away from food cooked in vegetable fat.
  • Do not take any fish-liver-oil food supplements.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke and alcohol.
  • Avoid freezing milk in plastic packets, as extreme temperatures (hot and cold) cause dioxins to ooze into liquids.
  • Drink more water, so that your body can get rid of most of the toxins through urine instead of through your breast milk.
  • Exercise will also help to eliminate most toxins through your skin, instead of through your breast milk. 
  • To ladies with breast implants or who are thinking of getting them, if you plan on breastfeeding, consider these points:

1. Silicone breast implants can leak. Many children breastfed on breasts with implants show no harmful effects, but some do, and the consequences can be extremely dreadful. Many families are dealing with the impact of implants on their child's health.

2. Studies have found high levels of platinum salts in the breast milk of women with silicone gel breast implants. That’s because platinum is used to create the shells of the implants (not for saline implants). The platinum can cause harsh allergic or toxic reactions.

The False Fear of Toxic Breastmilk

Pesticides in Breast Milk

"I am an agricultural worker in British Columbia. Picking cherries begins my season followed by apples & grapes.

Because they are soft fruit pesticides are used. My baby is 15 months, is eating solid foods for every meal but still breastfeeds throughout the day & night.

I want to continue to breastfeed, but I am scared of the effects of the pesticides.

I plan to wear pants, long-sleeved shirts & a mask. I will shower before holding & feeding her. I wonder if that will be enough? I am trying to wean her & hope to have her down to only nighttime feedings by the time I start, but she has no interest in slowing down. I do not want to stop but need to return to work. Please share any information you may have.

Thank you,

a concerned Mother."

Pesticides during breastfeeding

by: Tracy

"Hi! Do you usually have any side effects after work? Like headaches, diarrhea, rash or nausea? If, so then the chances of your baby being affected by the pesticides are also greater.

If you wear the proper gear and feel that you are not touching it or breathing it in, I don't think you need to wean your baby.

Since you are probably living near the area where you work, I'm guessing that your whole family comes into contact with the pesticides anyway, which means that the baby would be better protected if she continued to breastfeed.

This is a decision only you can make, whatever you decide is what's best for you and baby.

A study was done on this..."

Information about breastfed children concluded that despite the presence of PCBs in breast milk, no association between breast milk exposure and any measured outcome had been seen other than lower activity levels at four years among long-term breastfed children at the highest PCB levels.'

'Rogan examined breastfeeding and cognitive development in the children he had followed for so long. What he discovered was that the breastfed children, even though they had received higher contaminant loads through human milk than the children who had been bottle-fed from birth, scored significantly higher on the Bayley and McCarthy mental and psychomotor development tests (at all time points from two years through five years) and had higher English grades on report cards from grade three or higher'

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