Is Breastfeeding Safe?

Reduce unwanted contaminants in your environment for better breastfeeding  
This page has been automatically translated from English. MSDH has not reviewed this translation and is not responsible for any inaccuracies.

Breastfeeding remains the healthiest way to nourish your baby.

News report often focus on findings of contaminants in mothers' milk. This is in part because breast milk is easier to obtain than most human tissues, and well-suited for chemical testing. Substances that are widespread in the body and environment will frequently be found in human milk as a result.

Ways to reduce unwanted chemicals

Breastfeeding mothers can be assured that breastfeeding remains the best choice even in a polluted world. Here are 10 simple ways a woman can help reduce her body burden of unwanted chemicals.

  1. Avoid smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol since levels of contaminants have been found to be higher in those who smoke and drink alcoholic beverages.

  2. Be aware of pesticides in homes and buildings, and the possibility of lead-based paints in older homes.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Avoid fish such as swordfish and shark or freshwater fish from waters reported as contaminated by local health agencies.

  6. Limit exposure to solvents found in paints, non-water based glues, furniture strippers, nail polish, and gasoline fumes

  7. Remove the plastic cover of dry cleaned clothing, and air out the garments in a room with open windows for 12-24 hours.

  8. Try to avoid contact with incinerator discharge, preserved wood, or produce grown near incinerators

  9. Avoid exposure to chemical contaminants at work, and seek improved workplace chemical safety standards for all employees, especially pregnant and lactating women

  10. Encourage other family members to be sensitive to contaminant residue they may inadvertently bring into the home

Contamination by flame retardants

In September 2003, many media outlets featured reports on a particular type of flame retardant that had been discovered in human milk. Lauren Sucher, spokesperson for the group that sponsored the study, stated: "Despite the increased evidence of BPDE contamination, the researchers noted that breast-feeding remains the single most important choice mothers can make for the health of their babies, offering innumerable benefits to mother and child."

Breastfeeding benefits

Fetal exposure appears to be the biggest problem. While testing levels of contaminants in human milk provides a good indicator of fetal exposure, breastfeeding may actually help overcome some of the harmful effects that occur during pregnancy, the researchers said.

The LLLI press release further reminds us:

A discussion of this topic is incomplete without pointing out the well-documented nutritional inadequacies and detrimental health consequences of artificial baby milk, which may be contaminated both as products of the same environment and through manufacturing. In addition, human milk, unlike manufactured formula, does not add to the ecological burden of the planet. Human milk cannot be duplicated. It is a living, changing fluid which continually adapts to the needs of the developing infant. Professional research demonstrates that breastfed infants have significantly lower morbidity rates. In addition, studies show that breastfeeding offers significant immunologic, developmental and nutritional benefits.
Our free newsletter includes monthly disease updates: 
Last reviewed on Nov 8, 2016
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866-HLTHY4U web@HealthyMS.com
Facebook Twitter Instagram RSS